A rabbit sneezing, and a wet nose accompanying the behavior, can be a sign that your rabbit has a cold. Also, some rabbits are prone to sneezing fits. While initially cute, sneezing can become disturbing to rabbit owners that do not understand the underlying medical cause.
If your rabbit sneezes a clear discharge, they have an upper respiratory infection, such as snuffles. If your rabbit dry sneezes, they have an allergy or irritation of the nose.
When your bunny sneezes, watch closely. If your rabbit is sneezing with white discharge, they should be examined by a vet. If they are dry sneezing, an allergy or nasal irritation is the likely explanation. Keep an eye on your pet, and eradicate the cause of the sneezing, if applicable.
Why Do Rabbits Sneeze?
A rabbit sneezing fit could have a variety of explanations. There will always be a reason for the behavior, though. Rabbits do not sneeze without purpose. Some of the reasons include:
- An upper respiratory infection, such as Snuffles (rhinitis)
- An allergic reaction to something in your rabbit’s environment
- Something is trapped in your rabbit’s nose, irritating it
- Your rabbit’s teeth are overgrown, and the root is tickling their nose.
Rabbit Sneezing with Discharge
Sometimes, rabbits release a clear white discharge when they sneeze. This is mucus.
Rabbits can struggle with respiratory infections. The most common is snuffles, named after the noise an impacted rabbit makes. The scientific name is Pasteurellosis, as the Pasteurella bacteria cause snuffles. Common symptoms of snuffles in rabbits include:
- Discharge from the eyes and the nose which leads to wet sneezes.
- Tilting the head to one side.
- Sores on the skin and bald patches on the fur.
- Lethargy and sleeping more.
- Greasy and matted fur. This is often a consequence of your rabbit rubbing their discharged mucous over themselves.
Keep a close eye on your pet in such a scenario. A healthy adult rabbit will often recover from snuffles of their own accord. More vulnerable pets will need medical attention, though.
What Causes Upper Respiratory Infection in Rabbits?
The Pasteurella bacteria cause snuffles. This is present in almost every rabbit. It usually lies dormant, but occasionally rears its head and makes a bunny sick.
Stress is the most common cause for snuffles, or other respiratory illnesses. Keep your bunny is a strict routine, with regular daily exercise. Remember that rabbits are clean animals, too. Keep their hutch sanitary so they’re relaxed.
Snuffles is also highly contagious, though. Even a content pet can be struck down if they encounter the virus through contact. This leaves owners of multiple rabbits with a dilemma.
On the one hand, it’s best to quarantine a sick rabbit until they recover. You’ll minimize the risk of spreading the infection.
On the other, two bonded rabbits should never be separated. Doing so will cause stress. This will magnify the symptoms in one bunny, and may cause the other to grow unwell anyway.
Make a judgment call based on your rabbit’s general health and vitality. If you’re confident that both will kick the condition without too much trouble, keep them together.
Is Snuffles Dangerous?
If you have a healthy adult rabbit, the prognosis for snuffles is good. It’s the flu. Your rabbit will feel poorly for a few days. If they stay warm and hydrated, they’ll flush the virus from their body.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to vulnerable bunnies. If your pet is young or old, they’ll be in danger. Equally, if your rabbit is visibly distressed, seek professional help.
Another symptom is breathing through the mouth. Bunnies are obligate nasal breathers, even if their nose is streaming. If your rabbit has labored breathing, get straight to a vet.
How to Treat Snuffles in Rabbits
Just like the common cold, the best way to combat snuffles is often time and patience. If your rabbit stays safe, they’ll sleep off the virus organically.
A vet will prescribe antibiotics, and it may need to be administered for several months. Snuffles is never cured. The bacteria return to a dormant, inactive state.
Pan American Veterinary Laboratories produce a vaccine against snuffles, called BunnyVac. Rabbits with stress-free lives in a clean hutch are also less likely to develop the condition.
Is Rabbit Snuffles Contagious to Humans?
Snuffles is not contagious to humans in the way you might think. If you handle a rabbit with snuffles, you will not come down with a cold.
Despite this, Pasteurella is a zoonotic form of bacteria. This means that it can infect humans and other animals. The skin would need to be broken through a scratch or bite.
While this is rare, a rabbit with snuffles may be temperamental. Bear this in mind while handling a poorly rabbit. Gloves and long sleeves may be advisable.
Exposure to the Pasteurella bacteria will lead to pain and swelling around the wound site. It can also cause respiratory infections if left untreated, and has even been linked to meningitis.
If bitten by a rabbit with snuffles, wash the wound with cool water and antibacterial soap. You may wish to make a non-emergency appointment with your doctor if you have compromised immunity.
Rabbit Sneezing with No Discharge
If your bunny sneezes without discharge, it’s less concerning. This suggests that your rabbit doesn’t have an immediate health concern.
There will be a reason that merits investigation, though. Your pet will find this sneezing annoying. If ignored for too long, the cause of the sneezing may become harmful.
Take the time to observe your rabbit, and acknowledge when they sneeze. You’ll likely notice a pattern. This helps you understand whether it’s allergy or irritation from foreign objects that makes them sneeze.
What Causes an Allergic Reaction in Rabbits?
Rabbits can be allergic to anything, and dry sneezing is a common symptom. An allergy will lead to a sneezing fit, and then your rabbit will continue as usual.
We previously recommended looking out for a pattern. This is especially important if your rabbit has an allergy. Discover what is causing their reaction, and remove the trigger.
There is no limit to what a rabbit could be allergic to. Dietary reactions are common, or they may be sensitive to a plastic food bowl. Many bunnies also react poorly to cheap hay.
When introducing new food to a rabbit, do so slowly and steadily. This is vital when it comes to fresh fruit or vegetables. Until you’re sure that your bunny will not react poorly, keep quantities small.
Rabbits can also be sensitive to their environment. If your bunny sneezes when you handle them, pay attention. They won’t be allergic to you. They may have a sensitivity to your perfume or cologne, or the fabric of your clothing.
Be aware that some unfortunate rabbits suffer allergies to grass and pollen. If your rabbit exercise outdoors, ensure that they’re unharmed afterward.
If your rabbit only endures dry sneezes, it’s irritating for them but not dangerous. Remove the allergen and all will be well. Just ensure that your rabbit does not become stressed, as this can lead to ill health.
What Can Irritate a Rabbit’s Nose?
A number of foreign objects can tickle a bunny’s nose, and lead to sneezing. That’s one of the possible reasons why rabbits wiggle their noses.
If your feed your bunny pellets, check the bag. Are you close to the bottom? If so, you are likely flooding their food bowl with dust.
This dust is not harmful or toxic, but it will make a bunny sneeze if inhaled. Consider sieving out any dust before serving dinner. Alternatively, switch to a newer bag of pellets or dust and mold free hay. Mold can make rabbits very ill.
Check that your rabbit does not have anything trapped in their nose. Bunnies are surrounded by hay, which can tickle their nostrils. They may even inhale a small piece of litter from their tray.
If you suspect that something is trapped in your rabbit’s nose, use a torch to check. If you see a foreign object, delicately remove it with tweezers. Do not use your fingers. Bunny noses are delicate, and easily damaged.
You should also check your bunny’s teeth, though. Rabbit teeth never stop growing, and need to be filed down through constant gnawing. Failure to do so sees the teeth become overgrown, potentially irritating the nose.
How Do I Know if My Rabbit’s Teeth are Too Long?
As the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund explain, you should monitor your bunny’s appetite. If it drops sharply, it’s often due to dental pain. Rabbits like to graze all day, every day. If they stop doing so, there will be an explanation.
Periodically run your finger over your pet’s gums. If they’re bumpy, it suggests that the teeth are overgrown. Keep an eye out for runny eyes alongside the sneezing, too. Overgrown tooth roots can block the tear ducts.
Only an x-ray can confirm if your rabbit is experiencing issues with their teeth. If this is the case, they’ll need treatment ASAP. This involves placing your pet under anesthetic, and trimming the teeth with an electric burr tool.
Don’t ignore dental problems in rabbits. They may not be immediately life-threatening, but that quickly changes. If a rabbit is in pain with their teeth, they won’t eat. This becomes dangerous within 24 hours.
How Can I Stop My Rabbit from Sneezing?
If your rabbit is continuously dry sneezing, you’ll need to undergo a process of elimination. They’re allergic to something, even if it’s not obvious.
Try litter training your rabbit and cleaning your rabbit’s hutch more frequently. The ammonia found in bunny urine can build up in hay and bedding. This, in turn, can make a rabbit sneeze. If you remove the ammonia, you may end the sneezing.
You should also think about the location of your rabbit’s hutch. Ensure that your pet has sufficient ventilation. Low-quality air will create a stifling environment. As a result, your rabbit is likely to breathe in dust, smoke, mold, and dander.
Check for any unappealing scents in the air, too. Rabbits often sneeze to clear their nose of an unpleasant smell. This could be ammonia. It may be an air freshener or furniture polish, though.
If this still doesn’t help, look at your bunny’s diet. It’s time to ditch the dusty pellets. Healthy rabbits do not need these anyway. Unlimited, high-quality hay is enough to keep an adult bunny nourished and happy.
Rabbit sneezes are surprisingly common, but they’re always caused by something. Most vets will tell you that sneezing is nothing to worry about, but remain vigilant. Your bunny will be grateful if you can stop them sneezing.
Remember the golden rules when it comes to sneezing rabbits. If they release discharge, clean it up. If they’re dry sneezing, check for potential allergens. In both cases, prevent the situation from getting any worse. Prevent is always better than cure.