White foam from rabbit's anus

by Marte Kliesh
(La Ceiba, Honduras)

I have a 7 year old buck that was neutered 3 years ago. He has begun passing white foam and I can hear gurgling from the bowel when I handle him.

Over the last year he has lost a bit of weight but he and the doe have run of the yard as well as small feedings of pellets. Last year he had a bit of diarrhea which resolved itself with dry hay. I am an American expat living in Honduras, C.A. Rabbit sabe vets do not exist here.

***** Karen Sez *****
I'm afraid that white foam from the anus of a rabbit is a new wrinkle to me. And without a proper vet exam, treatment options are limited. Is your rabbit still eating normally?

I called my own vet and inquired, but they would not hazard any guesses as to the white foam, other than saying what you and I already know - that gastrointestinal problems in a rabbit can be "not good."

But let's brainstorm a bit. Since you can hear the bowel gurgling, it is a fairly safe bet that the rabbit has a digestive upset, or dysbiosis, again. The upset in the intestines between bacteria and foods creates a bloom of the wrong kind of bacteria. I'm wondering if the rabbit is developing a bowel blockage which is why I ask if it's eating. Hopefully feeding it nothing but dry hay for a few days (again) will help both the dysbiosis and an impending blockage.

Since it roams the yard, there's also the possibility of parasites, including coccidiosis, pinworms, roundworms, and possibly tapeworms. I'm not sure these would contribute to the white foam, but they would certainly contribute to upsetting the rabbit's intestinal processes and overall health. Treating these becomes complicated if you cannot obtain a proper diagnosis through a diagnostic laboratory.

Lastly, your rabbit is an old man. Its immune system is not as strong as it used to be, as evidenced by the weight loss and increasing frequency of health challenges. Old age also means it cannot fend of things like parasites as it might have done easily just a few years ago. Sadly, we all die eventually, even rabbits. Nevertheless we like to postpone the inevitable as long as possible so we can keep enjoying our favorite pets.

My book, Rabbit Raising Problem Solver (more info at www.rabbitraisingproblemsolver.com) has an extensive section on rabbit health. Perhaps you can acquire a Kindle version of this? (International shipping of the hard copy is quite pricy.)

If not, we created an e-book as well, "Keep Your Rabbits Healthy" (http://www.raising-rabbits.com/rabbit-disease.html). It won't mention white foam (neither does the book above), but it does cover intestinal problems and parasites.

If you do end up getting a definitive diagnosis of what is causing that white foam, I'd sure appreciate it if you's check back and let us know.

Best of luck.

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Nov 18, 2014
Expecting the Best
by: Marte

Karen, thanks so much for your feedback. Your information confirms a lot of what I had been thinking. I am a naturopathic (natural healing) doctor but bunnies and people are different. My old man, Patch, has been a joy but I see the signs of aging. What is the average lifespan of a domesticated rabbit?

**** Karen Sez ****
Average lifespan for a rabbit is somewhere in the 6 - 8 year age range. So, 'your old man Patch' (lol) is right in there. But take heart, it is not uncommon for a rabbit as well-cared-for as Patch to live 10 - 11 years or even a bit longer. Best of luck to you and Patch.

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