Why is my poo like rabbit droppings?

If you’ve noticed that you’re regularly passing stools that mimic rabbit droppings, you may be experiencing constipation. One of the most common symptoms of this issue includes small, hard pellets that may be painful to pass (rabbit dropping-esque) alongside stomach pain and bloating.

Rabbit sitting up in grass

Constipation typically occurs when the stool moves through the large intestine very slowly, and too much water is then absorbed from the stool. This can make your poop hard, sharp and dry, causing it to break down in the intestine and therefore you experience pellet-like, painful bowel movements.

You may also be experiencing other symptoms of constipation, that include:

  • Passing a stool less than three times a week.
  • Straining when trying to pass a bowel movement.
  • Feeling as though you haven’t fully emptied your bowels.

Dr Kirstie Lawton, a registered nutritionist and registered nutritional therapist explains that constipation can affect anyone at any age, and persistent constipation can be detrimental to someone’s overall well-being, even leading to some medical conditions. “Extended periods of constipation can lead to haemorrhoids and are linked to diverticular disease and colorectal cancer.

“In addition, the liver breaks down toxins and hormones, and it excretes them into the colon to be removed from the body in stool, but when this stool is stagnant, the toxins are reabsorbed into the body and recirculated. Therefore, healthy bowel movements are essential for our overall well-being.”

As an indication of healthy stools, Kirstie notes your poop should be between three and four on the Bristol Stool Chart. She says, “If your stool is dry and hard to pass, e.g. a one or two, you are constipated. Stools should also be mid to dark brown, so if you notice that your stool is excessively pale, red, or black and tarry, do consult with your GP.”

Bristol stool chart

There are a number of typical causes of constipation which include:

  • dehydration
  • medication
  • inactivity
  • medical conditions e.g. hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, IBS

It’s important to note that a change in bowel habits in an isolated event is considered normal, but a prolonged change could be a sign of an underlying problem, so it’s always important to consult your GP or nutrition professional for a prolonged change.

How to ease constipation

Let’s take a look at some helpful methods to ease discomfort as recommended by Kirstie.

1. Drink enough fluids

One of the most common causes of constipation that directly leads to poop like rabbit droppings is dehydration. In this instance, it can be helpful to consume at least two litres of fluid daily.

“This can include consuming a wide range of complex carbohydrates, non-starchy vegetables such as cucumber and green leafy vegetables, and fruits such as citrus fruits, pear, melon, apple, prunes and kiwi fruit.

“To ease constipation, drink flax water daily: boil two teaspoons of whole flaxseed in two to three cups of water for 15 to 20 minutes, and then decant the seeds and drink the liquid e.g. with a herbal tea bag as a warm drink.”

Foods that are high in both fluid and fibre can also support bowel movements.

2. Manage stress levels

Managing stress is essential when it comes to constipation, as constipation is closely linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest system which controls a number of bodily functions. When this system is ‘switched on’ in the body, it encourages digestion and enables the muscles in the digestive tract to relax, helping you to pass a stool comfortably.

Managing your stress levels with meditation, yoga and breathing exercises, chewing thoroughly, gargling, singing or humming, exercise and stomach massage, can all help to activate our vagus nerve and encourage peristaltic movement of stool through our GI tracts,” says Kirstie.

3. Understand your gut microbiome

Kirstie says that constipation can be a sign of imbalanced gut flora. “If this is the case, you may need to consult with a dietitian, nutritionist or nutritional therapist who can support you with diet and lifestyle intervention and supplements to support regular bowel function.”

Gut flora, also known as the gut microbiome or microbiota consists of trillions of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi etc.) that live in our digestive tracts and help keep us healthy.

There is a growing body of research that suggests an imbalance in this bacteria, known as gut dysbiosis, could contribute to a number of health concerns including IBS, chronic fatigue, weight imbalances and constipation.

In this instance, you should consult your nutrition professional who can advise sufficient tests to help you identify the health of your gut, and make recommendations personalised for you.

If you’re struggling with uncomfortable symptoms of constipation and need support, Kirstie offers both in-person and online nutritional therapy, and you can contact her directly via her profile. You can also use the advanced search to find many other therapists who can support you with constipation.

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Written by Katie Hoare
Katie is a writer for Nutritionist Resource.
Written by Katie Hoare
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