Disclaimer: this is single incident and does not apply to all rabbits who do not eat, many of these rabbits could benefit from veterinary care and intervention.
On Thursday Harriet decided she would not eat. All treats were summarily refused with the turning of the black nose. She seemed depressed. However her posture was not hunched, nor was she grinding her teeth or drooling. Her ears ere cool. I rubbed her tummy, I massaged her ears and back. Around 11 I gave her some pumpkin through a syringe. I could hear a gurgle in her intestines, her abdomen did not seem particularly bloated or hard. I went off to a two hour seminar on Autoimmune Conditions and Nitric Oxide. On my return she seemed a bit more lethargic, though in all fairness it wasbunny nap time. Feeling a bit over loaded in other categories, I decided to see if the vet could see her. At 4 we were at the vet. Although our regular Dr. was not there, there was an exotics specialist. Harriet charmed the staff and was well behaved for all the pokings and prodings. Her temperature was normal and she weighed 7 lbs and 1 oz. The vet couldn't find anything wrong as far as obstructions in the intestines, or with her teeth, nor did Harriet seem to be in any sort of pain. The vet was happy with Harriet's diet and could find no fault that may have caused the problem: Ritz Crackers, Chocolate Cake, excessive rug chewing... The diagnosis was gas. This based on my having heard gas gurgles two times at home. I was given the opportunity to leave her for treatment and observation or do the procedures myself at home. Some pet owners would not have had the latter option, but I am all too well known at the vet's and can perform almost any task a vet tech can. We got an IV bag with SubQ fluids, antibiotics ( apparently there can be build up of bacteria with stasis which must be controlled), a motility inducer, and some Critical care.
$153 dollars later I put Harriet back in her space at home and started unpacking the pharmacy. Harriet went straight to her box and started eating hay, she left a couple poops. Then she got out and did some grooming, plenty of twisting (work that tummy) and face work, (such a face she has, have I mentioned that?) and she ate some cecals (nature's probiotic for rabbits). Then she got back in her box and ate more hay and did 20 poops. She gobbled up the rose I proffered. She chewed vigorously on some matting. I called the vet and inquired if I could just wait and observe, hold off on all the meds. No, I was told, do all the meds until the bunny if eating and pooping normally. Over the course of the next few hours it became quite clear that if I administered all the meds I would in fact be keeping the bunny from eating and pooping normally. She ate almost all of a normal greens vegie dinner with her warren mates. I held off on the meds. During the night I could hear her eating hay and at one point drinking. The next day she was perfectly fine full of piss and vinegar, begging for food and boxing with Amelia.
Naturally, I am grateful she has recovered and certainly the next time she skips a meal and has no other symptoms I'll let her recover in her own way for the first say, 24 hours. about every 3-4 months Tyler or Sydney will skip a meal in just this same way. The first time this happened with Tyler I brought him in to see the vet and really all she could say was maybe he has a little gas. When Sydney first did this I couldn't catch her to take her to the vet. Generally speaking if I can't catch the rabbit, the rabbit doesn't need to go to the vet. Now on to gas, often I have heard gas inside Amelia as she stretches out. It's presence was not accompanied by any refusal to eat or discomfort. It would seem that gas alone is not indicative of a problem. Thinking about wild rabbits I would imagine that every so often they don't have 4 square meals and 12 snacks a day. It is hard to know how many wild rabbits get stasis, that sort thing doesn't make it into the news or even Facebook. A brief investigation points to stasis being a domestic rabbit condition. Many factors could be contributors to this: lack of proper space to exercise in, the wrong sorts of food. Wild rabbits live in social groups, could this somehow contribute to maintaining digestive health? It is true that premature babies grow more quickly and become viable faster if they are touched.
Back to Harriet the only things I could think of that could have sparked the digestive strike are: dandelions too many meals in a row and lack of contact. In the wild I imagine that rabbits eat a variety of foods everyday, I could certainly be wrong, but could there be a mechanism instilled in rabbit physiology that prevents the animal from mono dieting. In humans a mono diet can lead to food allergies and other imbalances as an imbalance of constituents accumulates in the tissues and irritates the digestive tract. Then there is lack of contact. Harriet still isn't getting groomed by any of the other rabbits. In the couple days leading up the incident I'd been very busy on the other side of the fence and actually did feel like I wasn't giving her enough attention. There was a point when I picked up Amelia and saw Harriet watching and I though "Uh, oh she was hurt by that". But how silly is that? My scientific brothers often remind me not anthropomorphize. However it is true that in Chinese Medicine the condition called "Wood Attacking Earth" can result in a lack of appetite. The Wood element can be adversely effected by emotional upset........
I did get most of my money back for the meds.