Rabbit Coughing – Why is my rabbit coughing

Why is my rabbit coughing and sneezing? Is it a symptom of a lower or upper respiratory disease or could it be something else? If you hear the rabbit coughing noise, here are the possible causes.

Labored breathing, sneezing, running nose (nasal discharge), coughing and so on are some of the common symptoms of the various respiratory disease that may affect this animal. Coughing itself is not a disease but only a symptom.

Therefore, if you hear your bunny coughing, you need to look at its general conditions and investigate why it is happening. If it is serious, you should consider seeking help from a rabbit-savvy veterinarian.

Why is my rabbit coughing
Why is my rabbit coughing?

Why is my rabbit coughing?

There are many possible reasons why it could be happening. You need to consider other symptoms to be able to pinpoint the possible cause. Here are some of the common causes:

Snuffles or rabbit cold

This is the most common cause and it refers to a generalized infection of the upper respiratory system. Snuffles are most commonly caused by pasteurellosis and the affect bunnies will have symptoms such as “mucopurulent  nasal  exudates  with  sneezing  and coughing.”[1].

Other symptoms may include a runny nose, head tilting, runny eyes, snoring or snuffling sound among others.

Let your vet do a proper diagnosis and treat this condition. Treatment is using antibiotic being a bacterial infection.

Besides treatments, you should consider removing any coughed or sneezed mucus, clean and disinfect where your bunny lives as well as everything it uses including litter trays, blankets, dishes, bottles, toys and so on since this condition is contagious.


The second possible cause of this symptom in pneumonia which is a lower respiratory infection or disease. In most instances, this symptom does not arise. However, it is possible to have “sneezing or deep coughing that sounds similar to the barking of a dog.” [2].

The most common symptoms of pneumonia in these pets include lethargy, fever, weight loss, anorexia, exercises intolerance, nose and eye discharges, among others.

Treatment will depend on the signs and their severity. Hospitalization may be recommended as well as fluid therapy. Medications will include antibiotics, antifungal, antimicrobial, or antiviral once the exact cause has been determined.


Coughing could also be a sign of an allergic reaction to things such as dust in the air, dusty litter, dusty feeds, cleaning agents, smoke, and any other thing that your bunny may encounter. Besides this symptom, you may also notice a runny nose, teary eyes, and sneezing.

Since several diseases can have all these symptoms, it is recommended that you see your vet for a proper diagnosis to rule out other causes including snuffles.

Foreign body aspiration

This occurs when an inhaled semisolid or solid lodges in trachea or larynx. If the foreign body causes complete blockage of the airway, your pet may die within a short time. The foreign bodies could hay, some food pellet and so on.

Other symptoms that your bunny may have in case of foreign body aspiration include a runny nose, teary eyes, sneezing, and so on.


Coughing in rabbits can be due to any of the above causes as well as any other lower or upper respiratory disease or infection we may have not mentioned since these animals are obligatory nose breathers. However, not all these diseases cause this symptom.