Rabbit With Loose Stools

Could vegetables be causing a rabbit to have loose stools?

Q: I’m very concerned about my rabbit. I’ve taken him to the vet more times than I can count, changed his type and quantity of foods, treats, etc., and I just can’t seem to get the combination correct in order to eliminate his loose stools. Could this be from overfeeding of veggies?

I read long ago that I didn’t need to worry about feeding him too many veggies and that it was a misconception that veggies could cause loose stools. However, this is the only thing that I haven’t changed in quantity. It makes me think that it just might be the veggies causing the problem. The veterinarian has checked his stool for parasites at least twice, maybe more. He’s been on antibiotics several times. Nothing seems to make a difference. Can you offer any explanations and/or suggestions?

A: It sounds like you have really tried to find a source for this problem in your rabbit without success, and this must be very frustrating.

The gastrointestinal tract of rabbits is meant to digest certain types of fibers found in vegetables and greens and hays. When items such as treats, carbohydrates, high-sugar fruits and even some brands of pellets enter the gastrointestinal tract, as these foodstuffs are digested, the breakdown products can disturb the normal bacterial flora. When the normal flora is disturbed (good bacteria die off and bad bacteria proliferate), your rabbit can develop soft stools. Even a treat given once a week might be too much for your rabbit.

In some rabbits with soft stools that persist, when everything else has been tried, we remove all pellets and treats and offer a very natural diet of hays and grasses.

Antibiotics, even ones that we categorize as “safe antibiotics,” can cause soft stools. This can happen for days to weeks after the antibiotics have been discontinued.

In your rabbit, as long as you do this in consultation with your veterinarian, I suggest removing all food treats and pellets, and giving just hays, greens and grasses. I would give this at least a month to see if this helps with the soft stools. If this does not help, you may want to ask your veterinarian if doing a stool culture would be helpful in your rabbit. But my guess is that your rabbit’s gastrointestinal tract is so sensitive that he can only digest more natural food items at this point in his life.

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