Clagged Vent – Rabbit

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Also known as Un-ingested caecotrophs

Causes of Clagged Vent

Reduced appetite for caecotrophs

  • High protein diet
  • Low fibre diet
  • Ad libitum feeding
  • Taints
    • plants altering odour


  • Physically unable to reach or groom perineum
    • Musculoskeletal problems
    • Neurological disease (eg. E. cuniculi)
    • Spondylitis/kyphosis/arthritis
    • Abdominal masses
    • Large dewlap

Pain associated with ingestion of caecotrophs

  • Urine scalding
  • Dermatitis
  • Infected perineal skin folds
  • Dental disease


  • Small cage
  • Obesity
  • Elizabethan collar
  • Fluffy coat
  • Interruption of daily routine, eg:
    • feeding times
    • photoperiod
  • Stress
  • Change of diet

Treatment of conditions involving uneaten caecotrophs

Rabbits stop eating their caecotrophs (probably because of the excess of dietary protein but the animals may be unable or unwilling to groom because they have overgrown teeth with sore mouths or tongues). Harcourt Brown (2002) differentiates between conditions in which the caecotrophs are normal or soft and lists different causes of the two conditions. This is not diarrhoea (although owners often mistake it as such. As caecotrophs are so sticky there is quite an accumulation of matter at the vent on which the rabbit then sits, thereby impacting the matter onto the surrounding tissues. The presenting clinical signs may include blow-fly myiasis.

The treatment is to lower the energy and protein content of the diet and to feed higher amounts of fibre (hay and straw). Restrict pellets to 10-20 gram per kg (20 g in fat rabbits for fear they become acetonaemic). You often have to be very strict with owners, as in the treatment of canine obesity. Antibiotics may have very little use in the treatment of these animals but concomitant infections (eg respiratory diseases) may have to be addressed, in which case I recommend oxytetracycline S/C q 72hrs (Engemycin 5%; Intervet). To stimulate the resumption of gut motility the use of cisapride (Prepulsid;Janssen Cilag) 6-8hrs is recommended but may be difficult to obtain so metoclopramide may be used instead - PO q12h. Ranitidine (PO q12h) is mentioned as a substitute for cisapride.

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  • Harcourt Brown, F. (2002) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine, published by Butterworth Heinemann Oxford, ISBN 0 7506 4002 2