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Herbs versus Medications: Gastrointestinal Stasis- a Deadly Condition.

I am a student of herbs. I have spent many years growing and using herbs, and I recently finished the intermediate class at the Herbal Academy of New England. I view herbs as a preventative, an immune system builder, and an overall heath booster. However, things will happen, and in an emergency, I will take my animals to the vet. I will give antibiotics if recommended, and I will readily admit that a chemical medication saved Sugar's life a couple of weeks ago.
I also firmly believe that herbs are under used in our culture, and I believe that medications and antibiotics are over used. However, if herbs were all that were needed, the chemical antibiotics and other medications would have never been studied or created.


A few weeks ago,  I noticed one evening that Sugar was just lying around. Now, this isn't necessarily out of the ordinary. Every rabbit is allowed a bad 'hare' day once in a while. So, I added his fresh hay, romaine lettuce, and fresh pineapple to the cage, and I went to bed. 
The next morning, I came down, made my coffee and started for the den where his cage is.
The trick to catching this early is understanding your rabbit and their routine.  I already knew something was wrong before I even got in there. So here was what I found:
#1. Sugar always starts thumping when he hears me in the kitchen making my coffee. He cannot wait to get out in the mornings, but this morning, he did not.
#2. When I got in the den, he was still lying down in his cage.
#3. When I went to the cage and opened it, he didn't get out.
#4. He had not eaten any of his lettuce, hay, or pineapple from the night before.
#5. I remembered he was rather lazy the night before.
#6. I got him out, and he just stayed on the couch with me. He had no desire to play.
#7. I saw no evidence that he had used his litter box.

At this point, I knew something had gone horribly wrong with Sugar's system. We left immediately for the vets office. I couldn't get an appointment till 3 in the afternoon, so we just went, signed in, and waited in the car. I told them it was an emergency, and I would wait till she could work me in.
About an hour later, she worked us in and diagnosed the dreaded, gastrointestinal stasis. She did say that it appeared to be in the very early stages. She said that I had done nothing wrong, his weight was perfect, and his diet is perfect. She said it was just one of those things that happens. What is so sad, however, is that she said most of the time people do not get their rabbits in soon enough to save them. She said another 24 hours, and we would have had a different outcome.  Rabbits cannot survive for very long without eating, and with no fecal output, his system had blocked up. Gastrointestinal stasis causes their intestines to stop up. The first sign is that their poops will change in size, and sometimes be connected to each other by strings of hair. At this point, you can up fresh pineapple and papaya to counter this. If that doesn't work, fecal output will continue to decrease in size and slow down to an eventual stop. At the same time, the rabbits will stop eating, and start laying around lethargic. The night before Sugar got sick, he was lethargic, but did want his favorite treats. By the next morning, he wasn't eating at all.

Within a 24 hour period, he had gone from a bouncy, healthy bunny one morning, to extremely sick on the next morning. 
I am so blessed because:
#1. Sugar survived.
#2. I knew his habits well enough to catch it early.
#3. My vet took me seriously, and immediately prescribed medication to force his intestines to work.
We left the vet with a weeks worth of a liquid medication called Reglan.
She showed me how to give it to him, and told me to go to the store and get baby food- like mashed carrots, apple, etc. I was to make him eat through the syringe about ever hour or two during the day. In addition, she said to get pineapple juice, and make him drink that to help dissolve any hair he may have in his gut.

The reglan made him extremely drowsy, and for several days I was with him constantly. I even took him to work with me every day. He finally started using the litter box later that day, and his droppings began at about 1/4 their normal size. After just 6 hours with the medication, he began eating his hay on his own. It took about a week before he was his normal, happy self again. 

I learned a valuable lesson though. 
I would rather pay an un-needed vet bill than ever risk Sugar's life.
Twenty-four more hours, and he would have either died, or needed surgery that he may not have survived.

My advice is this:
#1. Trust your instincts.
#2. Know your animals.
#3. Provide fresh clean water, hay, and pellets daily, as well as fresh lettuces and some fruit like pineapple. Hay should make up a major part of their diet; however, I provide unlimited hay and pellets. Plus, they get the fresh, organic vegetables, lettuces, and some fruit twice a day.
#4. Keep their living conditions clean. If I didn't change litter boxes every day or two, it would be impossible to tell whether he was using his box.
#5. I believe the herbs keep my chickens and rabbits healthy and happy; however,
I will not rely solely on them once sickness sets in, we will go to a vet.

I believe fresh/ dried herbs daily as a preventative and immune booster is a powerful tool for everyone, including our pets. 
However, in an emergency, I will, and I will always advise you to take your animals to a vet to get diagnosed.




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