Your pet rabbit is happily hopping around the house when suddenly they begin to have issues. You notice them coughing up food, or “vomiting.” This concerns you, because you probably have not seen your rabbit do this before.
So, why is your rabbit vomiting?
The truth is, your rabbit is not vomiting. Rabbits are actually not capable of vomiting. If you noticed a similar action to vomiting, such as fluids or food coming out of your rabbit’s mouth or nose, they may have choked on their pellets.
I am going to be discussing why rabbits are not capable of vomiting, conditions that may cause your rabbit to choke, and other signs that your rabbit is sick.
Why Are Rabbits Incapable of Vomiting? You Noticed an Action from Your Rabbit that Seemed Like they Were Vomiting, However, this Was Not the Case Because Rabbits Are Physically Incapable of Vomiting. The Physiology of a Rabbit is not Built for Vomiting. Their Stomachs and Diaphragms are Not Built for Pushing Food Back Up.
While most mammals are capable of throwing up if they have eaten something that their body cannot handle, a rabbit does not have that luxury. A rabbit’s diaphragm muscles are very weak and are not equipped to handle pushing food back up.
The way a rabbit’s stomach is structured is also not built for removing food from the stomach when necessary.
Aside from the physiological reasons a rabbit is unable to vomit, there are also psychological limitations. An organism who is capable of throwing up will have signals sent to their brain telling them to throw up if they have eaten something toxic or unsettling. Unfortunately, a rabbit does not get this sensation.
There is less nerve, mouth, throat, and shoulder activity in rabbits. All of this activity is linked with the act of vomiting.
The inability to throw up is one downfall of a rabbit’s survival ability. A large reason humans and animals will throw up is because they need to rid their body of something toxic or harmful. If an animal is not capable of doing this, the harmful substance will stay in their bodies.
Researchers believe that rabbits were able to throw up at one point in time. They believe that evolution favored other methods of survival, such as their ability to taste and smell. With these impeccable senses the ability to vomit becomes slightly less important.
A rabbit is capable of tasting whether an object is poisonous or toxic. This benefits them in the sense that they will avoid toxins in the first place, rather than eating them and needing to vomit later.
Other animals who do not throw up are rodents, and horses.
What Conditions can Cause Your Rabbit to Choke?
This Choking Sensation Often Mimics Vomiting in Rabbits. This Will Trick Rabbit Owners into Thinking That Their Pet is Vomiting, When the Rabbit is Not Actually Able to Vomit. There are Various Situations that can Cause Your Pet to Choke. Whether it is Eating Their Pellets Too Fast, or an Underlying Medical Condition, Choking Should be Handled Carefully and Monitored.
If a rabbit is choking it is often on their pellets. If a rabbit tries to eat their food too fast, they are more likely to choke. If your pet has a tendency to eat their food too fast, it may be wise to spread their pellets out on the floor, so they are not taking in their food too quickly.
When picking out a rabbit pellet, make sure that you do not purchase a kind with dust in it. If there is dust present in your rabbit’s food, they may breathe in while eating after a sneeze. This will cause the dust to enter the nostrils, which will cause choking.
If you fear your rabbit is choking, but you can hear them coughing, then they are still okay. They can be left alone in this case and they will solve the problem on their own. If you do not hear a cough and notice your pet’s lips turning blue, you will need to get involved.
This is where the Bunny Heimlich Maneuver comes in.
To perform the Bunny Heimlich Maneuver, you will need to place your rabbit on your forearm. If you are right-handed, place the rabbit on your right arm, and vice versa for left-handed. Let their legs hang to the side as if they are straddling your arm.
Grip their head tightly on both sides with the hand of the arm they are laying on. Use your other hand to hold the rabbit tightly against your arm.
Lift the rabbit so they are just above your head, then quickly swing downward. It is very important that you have a tight grip otherwise you are risking dropping your pet, which will cause other complications.
This maneuver may take several tries to dislodge the item that is blocking your rabbit’s airways. Once the rabbit is coughing and sputtering, this means you have dislodged the item enough to stop performing the Heimlich Maneuver.
Another reason your rabbit may be choking is due to congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure can occur in a rabbit as a result of heart disease. They may exhibit breathing problems, which include choking.
After an episode that requires the Heimlich Maneuver, or anything that concerns you, it is always a good idea to take your pet into your local veterinarian in case there is still material left.
What Other Signs Could Mean that Your Rabbit is Sick?
If Your Rabbit is Choking, they May be Choking on their Food, or Suffering from Congestive Heart Failure. However, there are Other Illnesses that Are Present in Rabbits. There Are Also Many Signs that May be Present in a Rabbit When they are Ill.
What are some of these illnesses and diseases?
- Pneumonia- pneumonia occurs when the lungs are
severely inflamed. This may disrupt the function of the entire respiratory
system. This inflammation may be a result of a bacterial, fungal, viral, or
parasitic infection, as well as inhaling a foreign object into the lung.
- Weight loss, loss of appetite, choking, sneezing, and excessive salivation are common signs of pneumonia.
- Snuffles- snuffles are respiratory diseases in
rabbits. There are a number of respiratory diseases that can be contracted by a
rabbit. These are normally caused by various bacteria.
- The common signs of snuffles are runny eyes, nose, and sneezing.
If your rabbit is exhibiting any of these signs accompanied with choking, you may want to have them seen by a veterinarian…
- Runny nose
- Painful abdomen
- Tooth Grinding
- Hair loss on the chin and neck
- Change in stools
- Change in urine
- Poor coordination, or rabbit tilting head to one side
- Biting, growling, or attacking
- Flaky or itchy coat
- Lumps or masses
Since rabbits do not typically show pain, it is important to look for these physical signs. As a prey animal, a rabbit will not often express their pain, as they see it as a sign of weakness to predators. This is why many conditions often go untreated in rabbits.
Your Rabbit is Not Vomiting, Even Though it May Seem Like They Are. Rabbits Are Incapable of Vomiting, as Their Body and Mind Prevent them From Doing So. Choking in a Rabbit May Create the Illusion of Vomiting.
While rabbits are not capable of vomiting, they have been known to choke, whether from eating their food too fast, or from another health condition.
It is essential to know the Bunny Heimlich Maneuver in order to help your pet if they are choking.