There are a number of web sites and published works, with a lot of different and often contradictory causes for bloat in rabbits. Many seem to be reflecting opinions and best guesses. The few works I found with scientific research included in their documentation did not indicate an identifiable cause or causes.

Two facts that I believe are not in dispute:

  • rabbits cannot vomit (or burp)
  • bloat is nearly always fatal (and painful)

Answers quoting a web page saying bloat is or is not related to GI stasis, are discouraged. Answers with reliable references including scientific inquiry, or personal experience where one or more specific (irregular) changes occurred in close proximity to the event are encouraged.

  • It seems that the problem with bloat is that it causes irreversible damage to the lining of the stomach because it is not elastic the may many other animals are.
    – user9
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 19:34
  • I might suggest that you're guiding the answer a bit too much with that last paragraph which is probably part of the reason that it's hanging out there without any answers attempted. I think if we're working a citation policy, it should be modelled on the idea that answers that can't be trivially verified should have legitimate sources and those sources may or may not include GI stasis in the discussion. At this point, you may have eliminated any resources that many people might have access to. Just a thought.
    – Joanne C
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


From the abstract to Gastric dilation and intestinal obstruction in 76 rabbits (F.M. Harcourt-Brown, Veterinary Record 2007;161:409-414):

Eighty-four incidents of gastric dilation (bloat) were investigated in 76 pet rabbits, and an intestinal obstruction was confirmed in 64 of them. In 49 the obstruction was due to pellets of compressed hair, in four to locust bean seeds, in five to neoplasia, in two to postspay adhesions, and in one case each to carpet fibre, tapeworm cysts, a strangulated hernia and diverticulosis. In all but four cases, the obstruction was in the small intestine.

My first thought would be that you might be able to reduce the risk of this disease with regular brushing, given the large number of hairballs the author found. Someone who has experience with rabbits and access to the full paper (I have neither) might have more insight into this research.

  • I would be interested in knowing what the cause of the other 8 were. There seems to be a high incidence of it in young rabbits that are re-homed. Most of the time the bloat set in during the first few days at a new home.
    – user9
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 5:23
  • @Chad I'm curious too -- I wish I had access to the full text of this one. It might mean that there are other conditions that owners could misidentify as gastric dilation.
    – toxotes
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 13:25
  • This is veteran rabbit breeders we have all seen far to much bloat.
    – user9
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 14:44

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