& Management / Disease
Investigation & Management / Techniques:
||A nasogastric tube may be
placed for repeated feeding of an anorectic rabbit. The most important
limitation is that only liquids can be administered; the tube diameter
does not permit passage of adequate long indigestible fibre.
- Choose a catheter/feeding tube of appropriate size (5 - 8 French, depending on
the size of the rabbit).
- Pre-measure the tube against the rabbit (end of nose to last rib on
the left side).
- End of the nose to the seventh rib for a naso-oesophageal tube. (B539.1.w1,
- Mark the point on the tube to which the tube should be inserted.
- Instil several drops of topical local anaesthetic solution onto the
mucous membranes of the nares.
- Ophthalmic solution suggested, e.g. proparacaine, Ophthain
Solvay Animal Health. (B602.14.w14)
- Or place lidocaine gel around the nares. (J29.15.w2,
- Wait several minutes for the local anaesthetic to take effect.
- Apply a small amount of lubricant (or lidocaine gel) to the end of the catheter.
- Elevate the rabbit's head while first inserting the tube; this makes
insertion of the tube easier. (B539.1.w1)
- Introduce the catheter into the ventral nasal meatus and advance
it ventromedially. (B601.2.w2,
- Keep the rabbit's head in a normal flexed position once the tube
is inserted to help
ensure the tube goes into the oesophagus, not the trachea. (B539.1.w1,
- If the rabbit objects, stop, withdraw the tube, and place
more local anaesthetic drops into the nasal opening.
- As the catheter advances into the oesophagus, have the rabbit's neck
partially flexed. (B601.2.w2)
- Advance the tube to the pre-marked point.
- Secure the tube in place:
- Attach a piece of butterfly tape to the tube.
- Suture or tissue glue the tape to the top of the rabbit's head,
between the ears.
- A drop of tissue glue can be used also to secure the tube on the
furred skin above the nares. (J213.1.w1)
- Take a lateral radiograph to confirm correct placement of the tube.
- An alternative method is to auscultate for gastric bubbles while
injecting 10 - 20 mL of air through the tube. (J213.1.w1)
- Place a catheter adapter over the end of the tube to close it off,
ensuring gastric contents cannot leak. (J213.1.w1)
- Consider placing an Elizabethan collar on the rabbit to prevent it
pulling the tube out with its feet.
- Flush with water before and after each feed or dose of
medication, to avoid tube obstruction
- Use liquid feed which can easily pass through the tube, e.g.
banana flavour Ensure (Abbott
Laboratories), pureed vegetables,
soy-based enteral formulas.
- Commercial rabbit pellets, ground up and mixed with water can be
- Critical care diets can be used.
- For more information on suitable feeds see: Food and Feeding for Mammals
- Convalescent diets / Nutritional support
(B539.1.w1, B601.2.w2, B602.14.w14,
|Appropriate Use (?)
- For feeding anorectic rabbits. (B601.2.w2,
- For oral (gastric) administration of fluids, food and medication
when syringe feeding is not possible, e.g. due swallowing problems,
after extensive surgery, or in anorectic individuals which will not
tolerate frequent handling. (B601.2.w2)
- Naso-oesophageal rather than naso-gastric tubes reduce the risk of
gastric reflux, oesophagitis and stricture formation. (J29.15.w2)
|Complications/ Limitations / Risk
- Not recommended for
rabbits with dyspnoea of respiratory tract origin, because rabbits are
obligate nasal breathers. (B601.2.w2)
- The small diameter of nasogastric tubes limits the thickness of
feed, so that fibrous material including e.g. Critical Care for
Herbivores (Oxbow Pet Products) or pureed pellets in water, cannot be given. (J29.15.w2,
|Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
|Expertise level / Ease of Use
- This procedure should only be
carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical
|Cost / Availability
|Legal and Ethical Considerations
In some countries there may be
legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For
example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides,
subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of
Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (See: LCofC1
- RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of
Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).
||Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD
|| Tiffany Blackett BVetMed MRCVS (V.w44)
B602.14.w14, J29.15.w2, J213.1.w1,