Hiccups in humans are often caused by spasms in the diaphragm. You can get rid of these spasms by holding your breath as this would help your diaphragm to settle down. Since rabbits cannot belch, hold their breathe themselves, or vomit, the only way they can expel trapped gas is by hiccupping.
So do rabbits get hiccups? Adult rabbits can get hiccups, but it is not as common as it is in younger rabbits. Rabbits that were not adequately ablactated as babies are more prone to hiccupping and other digestive problems. Baby rabbits, particularly those that are about two weeks old or younger, are especially prone to hiccupping, mostly after they have just eaten.
This is because they tend to eat very fast and, in so doing, swallow a lot of air, which can get trapped in their diaphragms.
Signs That Your Rabbit Has Hiccups
Seeing your rabbit exhibit unusual behaviour can be very distressing to you. However, hiccups in rabbits are usually nothing to worry about, especially if they only last for a few minutes as they would go away on their own. To set your mind at rest, however, it’d be best if you knew what signs to watch out for to determine if your rabbit is hiccupping or not.
Bouts of hiccupping that last for hours should be diagnosed because it might be a symptom of an underlying digestive or respiratory problem.
Below are some signs of hiccupping in rabbits that you can watch out for:
- Lack of appetite: Most rabbits that have a case of hiccups would show an increased lack of appetite even if they had a voracious appetite before.
- Distress signs: If your rabbit is exhibiting signs like grinding of teeth that suggest that it is in pain, it might have gas trapped in its diaphragm.
- Inability to go to the toilet: This is another sign that your rabbit might have a case of hiccups.
If you are not sure whether your rabbit has hiccups or is just having the shakes, you can examine it to find out by touching it all over.
Causes Of Hiccups In Rabbits
There are a number of different factors that can make your rabbit hiccup.
Some of them include:
- Rushed eating: This is one of the most common reasons for trapped gas in a rabbit’s diaphragm. Younger rabbits, especially, tend to eat as fast as they can because they are not yet used to you and are probably afraid that you will take away the food before they are done. Do not worry, though, as this is perfectly normal, and before long, they will get to trust you with food.
- Type of food consumed: If you feel that rushed eating isn’t the cause of hiccups in your rabbit, then you might want to take note of the kind of food you give the rabbit. Some foods tend to irritate a rabbit’s diaphragm and so if you notice that your rabbit is more prone to hiccupping after eating a specific type of food or vegetable, then it would be best if you stopped feeding it that food.
- Over activeness: If your rabbit is a very active type and it plays exuberantly outdoors, it is more likely to swallow a lot of air, which could potentially result in hiccups.
How To Stop Your Rabbits Hiccups
Once you have noticed that your rabbit has the hiccups, you can help it to relieve the gas that is causing its discomfort. To get rid of the trapped gas, use two of your fingers to locate your rabbit’s diaphragm. You will find the diaphragm below the rabbit’s heart, just above its liver. Once you have located its diaphragm, gently push on it with the two fingers.
Take care to do this as lightly as possible since rabbits detest being touched on their underside. If you push against the diaphragm properly, you will dispel any air that is trapped there, so long as the hiccup case is not severe.
You should never hold your bunny’s nose because you want to help it hold its breath as this will terrify it a lot, and you will have a hard time getting it to trust you again. In the same vein making your rabbit jump because you want to shock its hiccups into stopping is never a good idea as this will also terrify it.
This tactic would not always solve the hiccupping problem and would only serve to distress your rabbit, especially if your rabbits are quite young.
It is worth noting that some respiratory conditions in rabbits can cause hiccups. These conditions are called snuffles, and they result in hiccups when your rabbit tries to breathe in air to clear its sinuses. Signs of respiratory diseases include:
- Loss of appetite.
- Release of discharge from the eyes and the nose of the rabbit.
- Tilting back of the head in a bid to clear the air passages.
- General weakness and an unwillingness to be picked up.
Some digestive conditions could also cause hiccups in rabbits. These issues should not be taken lightly as they can lead to fatal consequences. If your rabbit cries when you touch it’s or its belly feels hard to your touch, it will be better if you called the veterinarian immediately. Such hardness in the belly coupled with hiccupping suggests that there is a blockage in the rabbit’s stomach.
Are Hiccups Dangerous for Your Rabbit?
Hiccups in rabbits rarely pose any significant danger to them, particularly if the hiccups do not last for more than a few hours. As is the case with humans, it is not an issue until the hiccups do not decrease over several hours or days.
If you notice that your rabbit has hiccups that have lasted for an absurdly long time, you should get it examined by a veterinarian. This step is necessary to rule out any underlying digestive or intestinal problems that your rabbit might have. Veterinarians will typically carry out an x-ray to determine if the cause of the hiccup is an intestinal problem or perhaps if your rabbit has gas balls.
On your part, you should make sure you are conversant with the regular breathing pattern of your rabbit so that you can easily detect any changes in it.