Small Mammal Gastrointestinal Stasis (GI)

Gastrointestinal stasis (GI) is a common condition in small mammals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, caused by an unbalanced diet and not enough exercise. It’s associated with decreased or blocked food in their gastrointestinal tract. In severe cases, it can lead to life-threatening complications.

Symptoms of Small Mammal Gastrointestinal Stasis

When a pet is suffering from gastrointestinal stasis, they can have a variety of signs and symptoms. The most common symptoms are:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced stool production

Other symptoms can include :

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Vomiting or regurgitating food
  • Increased gas production
  • Changes in body temperature

Diagnosing Small Mammal Gastrointestinal Stasis

Diagnosing gastrointestinal stasis is typically done through a physical examination and laboratory tests. During the physical exam, the veterinarian will check your pet’s overall condition, including their weight and vital signs. The veterinarian could palpate their abdomen to assess gastrointestinal motility and look for signs of pain, bloating, or distention.

Lab tests can include complete blood count (CBC), chemistry profile, and stool sample analysis. These tests help the veterinarian evaluate your pet’s overall health and look for any underlying conditions that might be contributing to their gastrointestinal stasis.

Stages of Small Mammal Gastrointestinal Stasis

The stages of gastrointestinal stasis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Generally, there are four stages:

Stage 1

In stage one, your pet might have a decreased appetite, reduced stool production, and occasional vomiting or regurgitating their food. Your pet might also appear lethargic and have a decrease in activity level. At this stage, GI stasis can usually be treated with diet and lifestyle modifications.

Stage 2

In stage two, your pet’s condition worsens and they can have bloating, abdominal pain or discomfort, increased gas production, changes in their body temperature, and more frequent vomiting or regurgitating their food. At this stage, medical intervention is typically necessary to resolve the issue.

Stage 3

In stage three, the gastrointestinal stasis is more severe and your pet might have severe bloating, abdominal pain or discomfort, and a decreased appetite. They might be unable to keep food down due to frequent vomiting or regurgitation. Medical intervention is typically necessary to resolve this issue at this stage.

Stage 4

This is the most severe stage of gastrointestinal stasis, and requires immediate medical attention. At this stage, your pet can have life-threatening complications such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or organ failure.

Treating Small Mammal Gastrointestinal Stasis

Treating gastrointestinal stasis may involve a combination of medical and lifestyle interventions. Medical interventions could include medications to stimulate their GI tract, fluids to prevent dehydration, or antibiotics to treat any underlying infection. Lifestyle modifications such as increasing exercise and modifying their diet can also help improve GI motility and reduce symptoms. Keeping your pet in a warm environment and on soft bedding can help reduce stress and help them relax.

Preventing Small Mammal Gastrointestinal Stasis

Gastrointestinal stasis can be prevented by feeding your pets a well-balanced diet, giving them regular exercise, and a stress-free environment. Giving them food with plenty of fiber in the diet can also help keep GI motility at an optimal level. Avoiding sudden changes in their diet or environment can help reduce the risk of GI stasis. Regular veterinary checkups are also important to monitor your pet’s health and to catch any early signs of GI stasis.