Hairballs in Rabbits

Dutch Rabbit

We’ve all heard about cats and hairballs, but did you know that rabbits can suffer from them as well.

When rabbits groom themselves, they ingest some of the loose hair which often remains in the stomach. Rabbits cannot vomit as cats can, so the hair accumulates and can form a mass in the stomach called a trichobezoar. The mass blocks the way to the intestines. This creates a problem for the rabbit as food cannot be digested. The rabbit does not get the necessary nutrients and becomes ill.

By following a few simple recommendations, you can help hairballs from forming.

  • Brush your rabbit several times weekly to remove any loose hairs. This will considerably reduce the amount of hair ingested when your rabbit groom him/herself.
  • Feed your rabbit a diet high in fiber – fresh hay and vegetables should make up the bulk of the diet. Keep the diet low in carbohydrates. Fiber helps keep the intestinal tract working properly.
  • Keep your rabbit active encouraging exercise. Hopping around outside the cage along with appropriate toys will help avoid stress. And you’ll have a contented and happy rabbit.
  • If your rabbit becomes lethargic and decreased appetite and weight loss are evident, take him/her to the vet immediately. A rabbit’s health can erode very quickly.
  • There are a number of treatments available for your vet to handle the problem. If it has progressed to the point that surgery is necessary, the prognosis is not as good.

Prevention, with the proper diet and exercise is the key to keeping your rabbit healthy.

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