Why Is My Rabbit Sneezing So Much? (Care Guide)

Why Is My Rabbit Sneezing So Much
Why Is My Rabbit Sneezing So Much

Rabbits get sick. Rabbit owners should know about common rabbit illnesses. I recommend you learn how to best care for a sick rabbit. I get asked by people all the time about rabbits sneezing. So, why do rabbits sneeze so much?

Rabbits sneeze if they have allergies, a respiratory infection or dental issues. It’s hard to diagnose which one is causing your rabbit to sneeze. If your rabbit sneezes an off colored discharge, he’s got an infection. Your veterinarian will culture the discharge to see if there’s an infection. Infections are dangerous for rabbits and should get treatment. If your rabbit has allergies, try to remove whatever he’s allergic to such a pine or cedar bedding, strong smells like fireplaces, or dust. If your rabbit’s cage isn’t clean enough, he can develop an allergy and sneeze a lot.

Is Rabbit Sneezing Normal?

Rabbits sneeze for different reasons. Your rabbit might be allergic to something around him or he might have a respiratory infection. Or there may be other reasons for sneezing.

  • Allergies-If your rabbit is allergic to something, he’ll sneeze with little to no discharge from his nose. If there is discharge, it should be clear. Rabbits can be allergic to all kinds of things outside such as pollen, smoke, dust. Beddings such as pine or cedar shavings can cause allergies in rabbits. Inside allergens include perfume, fabric softeners, room fresheners, cigarettes, house dust, or house cleaning sprays.
  • Respiratory infection-If when your rabbit sneezes, he has a thick, yellowish or white colored discharge, he’s got a respiratory infection. Rabbits are fragile animals. If they get an infection, it’s serious. Take your pet rabbit to your veterinarian right away if you suspect a respiratory infection. Your vet should never give your rabbit any form of the antibiotic, amoxicillin. It’s unsafe for rabbits, even deadly. An experienced vet who treats rabbits will know this. The germs causing your rabbit’s respiratory infection include pseudomonas, staph, strep, e-coli, pasteurella or bordetella. Your vet will culture the discharge then prescribe the best treatment. Ammonia stemming from too much urine or feces in your rabbit’s cage or hutch causes respiratory illnesses. Keep your rabbit’s cage and litter box cleaned out. Also, the infection spread from one rabbit to another, through contact or even airborne. Never let your rabbit play with a sick rabbit or any ill pet.
  • Dental infections-Older rabbit often has dental infections that spread to the nose. This gives them cold-like symptoms such as sneezing and runny eyes.

How Do You Treat A Sneezing Rabbit?

If your rabbit sneezes with a runny nose or runny eyes, take him his vet right away. Your rabbit’s vet will exam him thoroughly.  He’ll take a culture of the discharge to see what kind of infection your rabbit has and what kind of antibiotic to give your rabbit. His vet may draw blood to test it for signs of infection. The vet may ask you about any changes in your rabbit’s appetite, feces or personality. He’ll ask you about your rabbit’s bedding, food and if he’s been around other animals.  All these questions will help reveal what’s going on for your rabbit.

What Antibiotics Can Rabbits Take?

Amoxicillin is deadly for rabbits, but there are other antibiotics they may take. Here is a list of safe antibiotics for rabbits:

  • Enrofloxacin( Baytril)
  • Trimethoprim sulfamethoxazole
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Metronidazole
  • Doxycycline
  • Azithromycin
  • Ciprofloxacin

Your vet will determine if your rabbit needs antibiotics to fight off his infection. Your vet will prescribe a safe antibiotic for your rabbit. She’ll suggest you bring your rabbit back if you don’t see improvement in 48 hours. The vet might need to switch antibiotics because the first one isn’t working. Always follow the directions when giving your rabbit medication. Don’t skip a dose or overdose. More is not better for antibiotics. Because antibiotics can be rough on a rabbit’s digestive tract, so you can give your rabbit a probiotic to put the good bacteria back into his gut. Give him a chewable acidophilus tablet from your pharmacy.

How Do You Treat A Rabbit With Allergies?

If your rabbit is sneezing, and you vet said it isn’t because of infection, there’s a good chance he is allergic to something. Here are allergy symptoms your rabbit might experience if he has allergies.

  • Red eyes, watery eyes
  • Clear discharge from his nose
  • Constantly pawing at his nose and face
  • Rubbing his face on the ground

There are many things your rabbit could be allergic to, anything in your house with a strong scent is a potential rabbit allergen. But fleas and mites cause allergic reactions in rabbits. Check your rabbit for mites inside his ears. His vet will prescribe cortisol to treat the allergy and flea or mite medication to fill them.  Your vet may prescribe antihistamine if your rabbit shows signs of allergies. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information about rabbit allergies, and they’re rarely diagnosed with this condition by a vet.

Can Rabbits Catch Colds From Humans?

Rabbits can’t catch a human cold. A virus causes a cold. Pet rabbits get respiratory illness from bacteria, not a virus. Rabbits are vulnerable to herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores in humans. Doctors believe rabbits can’t get a human virus. 

Human viruses require certain receptors to transfer a virus, but rabbits don’t have the right receptors to get the virus. There hasn’t been tons of research on human bacteria making a rabbit get sick.

 It’s still a good idea if you’re sick to wash your hands before handling your rabbit. And it doesn’t hurt to wash your hands after you’ve handled your rabbit.  If you’re on antibiotics, stay away from your rabbit for 24 hours until the antibiotic kicks in.

What Dental Problems Do Rabbits Have?

Rabbits get dental problems as they age, especially if they haven’t had good dental care. Their teeth grow their entire lives.

A healthy diet helps prevent dental problems, but there’s other reasons rabbits have dental problems. Dental problems occur because of:

  • Overgrown teeth-Your rabbit chews. This keeps his teeth trimmed. If your rabbit isn’t chewing enough, his teeth will grow too long. Long teeth will cut his mouth and gums, and infection can occur. Give your rabbit lots of hay. The fiber in hay keeps his teeth trimmed down so his teeth won’t get overgrown.
  • Bad diet-Rabbits are herbivores. They eat vegetables, grass, fruit, herbs and hay.
  • Not enough hay-Your rabbit should eat his weight in hay every day. That’s a lot of hay! But hay is essential for your rabbit’s digestive health and it keeps his teeth trimmed down.
  • Poor genes-Some rabbits have poor genetics that tend towards bad teeth. There’s not much you can do if your rabbit has inherited bad genes except give him good dental care to avoid issues.
  • Injury to rabbit’s mouth-If your rabbit injurers his mouth, take to the vet to get him checked out. It could avoid problems down the road with his teeth.
  • Infection-If your rabbit has a runny nose, it might not be a respiratory infection, but a dental infection. If your rabbit is sneezing with a discolored discharge,it could be a dental infection.

Symptoms your rabbit has dental problems:

  • Rabbit won’t eat much
  • Rabbit drops food from his mouth while chewing
  • Rabbit loses weight
  • Rabbit’s mouth smells foul
  • Rabbit grinds his teeth
  • Rabbit drools, his mouth is wet
  • Runny nose, teary eyes

If you notice these symptoms, take your rabbit to your vet right away. Infections are serious in a rabbit. Your vet will examine his mouth and teeth for infection, overgrowth or other problems. He can file down your rabbit’s teeth if they are too long.

What Is Snuffles In Rabbits?

Snuffles is a bacterial infection. The most common bacteria that causes snuffles are Pasteurella multocida, Bordetella or Pseudomonas. The symptoms of snuffles include watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and cough. Because the symptoms are like a respiratory infection or a dental infection, it is difficult to diagnose. Untreated, snuffles turns into pneumonia, even blindness. It can also affect your rabbit’s ears or organs. If you suspect your rabbit has snuffles, get him to his vet right away. Sometimes rabbits show few symptoms then suddenly die of snuffles. It’s a common bacteria found among domestic rabbits. Snuffles can start by something that causes stress like overcrowding, or poor housing or poor diet. Sometimes even antibiotics don’t work if snuffles isn’t caught soon enough.

How Do You Clean A Rabbit’s Nose?

Many rabbits owners clean their rabbit’s noses when they have a runny nose from an infection or allergy. Hypoallergenic unscented baby wipes work well to clean the hardened crusty mucus that develops without causing irritation. You may also use a warm wet cloth held up to your rabbit’s nose till it loosens up the soiled area around his nose. Either way, should clear up his nose for easier breathing and less ugly stains around his nose.

If your rabbit is suddenly sneezing, investigate why he’s sneezing. He could be allergic to his bedding or some strong smell around his cage like perfume or a cigarette. One rabbit was allergic to tap water, he sneezed when he drank it. His owner gave him bottled water and he stopped sneezing. Sneezing could also mean your rabbit has a respiratory infection, especially if there’s a yellowish discharge that comes out of his nose. Take your pet to your vet right away if you notice this discharge. Rabbits are susceptible to snuffles, a deadly infection that needs medical attention. You can clean your pet rabbit’s nose to help him breathe easier.