Rabbits, like human beings, and other pets especially dogs and cats do suffer from allergies. However, their occurrence is rare, and they are poorly understood and documented.
Furthermore, their symptoms are often confused for other rabbit conditions including upper respiratory infections.
Rabbit allergies are responses to any substance their body might falsely consider as harmful, triggering an immune response that will have various symptoms we are going to discuss.
We will not be focusing on rabbit allergies that affect humans but those that affect this animal.
Some of the indications that this pet may be suffering from an allergic reaction may include, but not limited to the following:
- Clear nasal discharge
- Red eyes
- Teary eyes (clear eye discharge)
- Excessive face and nose touching with paws or repeated rubbing of the face on the ground or objects.
- Sneezing and coughing
- Bronchitis characterized by wheezing and labored breathing.
Some of these symptoms may also be presented by various diseases and conditions. Therefore, proper diagnosis is required to know what causes them.
Various irritants or allergens may trigger these reactions if they are ingested, inhaled, or touch their nose, mouth and eye areas. Common irritants include:
- Cleaning detergents including those for cleaning carpet
- Room freshening sprays or those for carpets
- Dust including dust from some types of hay, bedding or litter tray substrate
- Strong perfumes and other powerful scents
- Cigarette smoke
- Fumes from fireplaces especially if your house is poorly ventilated
- Fleas and mites
- Ammonia-soaked bedding and the ammonia smell in the air
You will be able to suspect that your rabbit has an allergy if the various symptoms are noted each time they are exposed to a certain irritant.
Treatment of rabbits with allergies
If you suspect your rabbit is allergic to a certain substance, the first step is to get rid of this irritating substance and if the reaction is severe, you should consider calling your vet for further diagnosis and treatments.
Your vet may recommend various products including some antihistamines as well as corticosteroids to calm the various symptoms that your bunny may be having.
Prevention is by removing the various irritants depending on which kind they are.
For instance, use fans to help in fresh hair circulation, open windows, or invest in a HEPA air filter like Germ Guardian True HEPA Filter Air Purifier or LEVOIT Air Purifier to help get rid of the offending substances especially if they are airborne.
If you suspect that the cause of allergy in your rabbit is triggered by the type of hay you are giving them, switching to a new one and check if it causes the same problems. Different types of hay have varying moisture contents which affects the amount of dust they might be having. Feeds like Oxbow’s Harvest Stacks are less pressed and do have less dust.
Furthermore, ensure your litter boxes and bedding are dry and change them immediately they are soiled.
Finally, go for bedding and litter box substrates that are naturally less dusty.
Although we have mentioned the fact that it is possible for these pets to have allergic reactions, do not rule out other causes including infections in their nasal passages or respiratory tract.
Let your vet determine if the various symptoms are truly from reactions to irritants or something else.