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Wool Block and GI Stasis


Some of the best articles on wool block I've found :

Cathy LaReau , Lops and Cavies

Dana M. Krempels, Ph.D. Department of Biology University of Miami

Betty Chu 
(a top Angora breeder) has some ideas I've never tried, 
but I likely will try in the future.

What is it?

A Wool block occurs when the stomach fills up with rabbit hair. Usually during a molt.
It can be a partial blockage, complete blockage, or just makes the rabbit feel full when it isn't. Rabbits with wool block will not likely eat as much and as a result can lose weight.
This can cause a lazy digestive system , constipation and gas build up.

Gas/bloating is very painful for rabbits. If a rabbit has gas/bloat it will be in a lot of discomfort, hunched up in it's cage and likely grinding it's teeth. A vet is recommended in this case, if you can't get to a vet here is what I'd do.

The stomach acid can't break down or dissolve hair.
Therefore I want to help the rabbit pass (poop) the hair out a little bit at a time.
If the rabbit passes a large amount of hair all at once it can cause a complete blockage in the intestine.
When a rabbit gets a blockage of hair, quite often the rabbit pellets and other food will bind to the mass.
Just like a clogged sink drain full of hair, the food and solids will become trapped in it,
this causes a larger mass. When I suspect a wool blockage here are some things I do;
Pineapple juice (fresh ), Fresh pineapple, papaya fresh or tablets, to help remove the pellets and food stuck to the hair (clean the hair off).
Some breeders use Meat tenderizer. I thought this really weird except they're only using the pineapple enzyme based meat tenderizer (concentrated pineapple enzymes). There are other kinds, like tomato based and chemical based tenderizer's so I don't know why they just say tenderizer.

GI Stasis is when the normal movement of the guts slows or becomes static. This can happen when the rabbit stops eating for a number of reasons such as sudden weather change (extreme heat or extreme cold), illness, recovering from an operation, Poop ball, Stress, dehydration, etc.

Ways in which I treat both Wool block and GI Stasis

Flax Seed
Flax seed and Linseed are the most slipper substances I've ever felt. 
If you've ever bought Critical Care from Ox bow and mixed with water, you'll have felt flaxseed in it.
I sprinkle a 1/4 tsp of flaxseed seed on my rabbit's food as a coat conditioner, however I believe it helps to keep the GI tract lubricated. Unlike Vaseline and fur ball med. Flaxseed is slipper and not oily. It is very water soluble. So if a wool block occurred the pineapple juice would be able to penetrate flaxseed.
Linseed looks and acts very much like Flaxseed except it is supposed to be cooked or it's considered poisonous.  I've know people to feed uncooked linseed to their horses and suffer no ill effects, but I do not recommend it. Linseed is supposed to be boiled in a bit of water which causes a chemical change. The amount of water doesn't matter. A lot of water and it's called a linseed tea. Less water makes a gruel of clear slimy goop that livestock love. I used to cook a giant pot of linseed, a couple times a week for my horses in the winter. By the time the spring came around their new coats were gleaming. 

Timothy Hay
I Feed timothy hay. Alfalfa can ferment if the digestive system isn't moving.
I Feed a hand full of timothy hay and wait until the rabbit has finished it.
I've had a couple rabbits pig out on the hay and move the mass in to the gut or make a complete blockage. I want the timothy hay to grab a bit of hair at a time and pass it out.

If the bunny is bloated or has gas, I give it Oval Baby/children's gas drops (Simethicone).

Hot Water Bottle
If the stomach is sucked in or the rabbit not willing to move around or in pain, I use a hot water bottle and make the bunny lay across it. I fill it with part boiled water and part really hot water from the tap. With fuzzy lops I found it takes a lot of heat to make it through their thick coats before they feel warmth. I have a towel on my lap and the bottle on the towel, so it's not too hot for me, it should be fine for bunny.
The rabbit will fight me at first because he'll not want to stretch out, but as soon as the water bottle starts working he'll start to relax and his stomach will soften. I gently massage his abdominal/stomach area. Very often the rabbit will pass gas once the stomach softens.

Bunny Enema and Abdominal Massage.
I got a pet bunny 8 years ago. When I got him home he had a dried poop ball stuck to him and really bad GI Stasis. I took him to the vet and she taught me how to give a Sub-q and force feed etc. None of it was working. So I decided to try to give him an enema. 
I boiled water to sterilize it. I let the water cool to a warm feel. I took a feeding syringe and filled it with water and pushed some water into the backend of him. I held him plugged up for a minute to let the water travel inside him instead of coming out. Then I let him run around in an exercise pen.
He passed a few Rock hard dried bunny poop. I tried again and the same thing happened and gently massage his abdominal/stomach area. He passed more dried out poop.
He started to feel better and was eating a tiny bit of greens on his own. The next few days he started passing the same dried out matter which I noticed the water had softened a bit. It would crumbled when I cleaned it up. It took weeks for him to recover. 
I've found some GI cases take a very long time to get working again. I've give many, many bunny enema's and I haven't lost a bunny yet to GI or Wool Block with the exception of my being away at a show when it happens. 
don't need much water to give a bunny enema, it's only used to hydrate, even though it does flush out dry matter, it more important that it's lubricating/hydrating enough so that the rabbit can pass it's blockage. 
Years later I found this site recommended bunny enema's.


Dana M. Krempels, Ph.D. Department of Biology University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL 33124

I feed Probiotics. See my Summer newsletter for details on Probiotic. www.fuzzylop.com

Food to tempt him to eat again
I feed some carrot tops, kale and parsley.
These are very high in fiber and act much like the timothy hay does, only they're more nutritious and the rabbit will eat a bit more. 

I buy frozen berries from Loblaws, they're $10.00 for a huge mixed bag of Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. I find them near the ice cream section. I've never had diarrhea or bloating issues with feeding a few berries, not even with the Juniors.

Lastly. many breeders suggest feeding cat fur ball medication or a glob of Vaseline to try to lubricate the mass so the rabbit will pass it.
However, if it is a large mass this will only serve to cause a complete blockage and coat the mass in thick oil so that nothing will be able to dissolve it.  I don't recommend cat fur ball medication or a glob of Vaseline, but if you're going to try, at least try to clean the wool mass of debris using the pineapple or papaya enzymes before using the Vaseline.

If it is a complete blockage the stomach often builds up with gas. Rabbit's can't burp so  bloating can kill them if the gas builds up in large amounts and has nowhere to escape too. The  stomach can also twist. If the stomach does twist only surgery will fix it. 
A friend of mine spent $1500.00 trying to save her bunny from a wool block. The vet X-rayed the rabbit and fed it pineapple juice which seemed to be working, until the doe required emergency surgery. The doe died shortly after the surgery. 
$1500.00 is out of my league for saving a rabbit. In the area where I live, C-sections cost $500.00-$600.00. Spaying $300.00. It's a matter of deciding how much is your limit to spend on vet care before the need arises and stick to your decision even when your emotions get batted around. The vet can't make that decision for you. So deciding a head of time before you're face with a tough decision is the best way. 
Keep in mind rabbits don't do well when it comes to surgery, they are considered an exotic pocket pet.



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