Rabbits

Rabbit Sneezing Fits Reasons: Are They Normal

Rabbits sneezing can be accompanied with discharge, coughing, runny eyes and so on. Why do rabbits sneeze and is it normal or should I be worried?

Is it normal?

Sneezing is one of the symptoms of upper respiratory tract problem or diseases in rabbits. It may be accompanied by other symptoms including conjunctivitis, snoring, coughing, labored breathing, ocular discharge, nasal discharge, dacryocystitis, erosion of nasal mucosa, among others.

My rabbit is sneezing
Why is my rabbit sneezing?

The exact accompanying symptoms will depend on to the cause.  As we discuss the various possible triggers, we will give you symptoms that may accompany specific causes.

Therefore, it is not normal for rabbits to sneezing as this is an indication that something is not alright.

Finally, sneezing can be noticed in bunnies of any age. However, baby bunnies are more vulnerable to the various causative agents we are going to see.

Do rabbits sneeze?

Yes, they do and it happens in a similar way that it happens in human beings, i.e., it involves reflexive air expulsion through the nostril (rabbit sneezing sound). Usually, it happens as their bodies try to get rid of an irritant or as a reaction to irritation.

Why do rabbits sneeze? 

The main reason why it happens is due to any irritation or inflammation of the nose and throat mucous membrane (or nasal glands) which can be infectious or non-infectious. If the infections involve the nasal passages only, it is often referred as to rhinitis.

Cases of a rabbit sneezing a lot or having a fit can be so bothersome. Some of the common causes (infectious and non-infectious) include the following:

Snuffles or rabbit cold

Snuffles is a general term used to refer to a highly infectious upper respiratory infection whose primary cause is Pasteurella multocida. Other bacterial organisms can cause it including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.

Some of the symptoms you expect include coughing, wheezing and snuffling sounds, runny eyes, and nose (with clear to thick discharge), head shaking (if ears are affected), conjunctivitis, anorexia, among other symptoms.

After diagnosis, your vet may recommend various antibiotics including enrofloxacin, azithromycin, gentamycin, Tetracyclines, ciprofloxacin, Trimethoprim among others.

Bordetellosis and pneumonia

Bordetellosis in rabbits is caused by is a negative gram bacterium known as  Bordetella bronchiseptica which can be transmitted via contact or air.  This bacterium may cause “upper respiratory infection with serious to mucopurulent nasal  exudate  and  sneezing.” [1]

In extreme cases, a bunny may end up with bronchopneumonia, which is a type of pneumonia in rabbits.

Pneumonia can also cause sneezing and coughing as well as other symptoms including anorexia, lethargy, a congested mucous membrane fever, malaise, facial abscesses, among others.

In severe cases, pneumonia results in clinical signs such as coughing blood, hypothermia shock, noisy and labored breathing among others.

Treatment is by various antibacterial medications including Trimethoprim sulfadiazine and Azithromycin once your vet has positively diagnosed this condition.

Allergies

It is possible for these pets to inhale things that may cause allergic reactions including dust, pollen grains, cigarette smoke, room fresheners, among other allergens (or things that their bodies cannot tolerate).

Allergic reactions may present various symptoms including sneezing fits accompanied with a lot of clear nasal discharge, teary eyes among other symptoms.

Find out what is causing the allergic reaction. Get rid of the various allergens. It could be dust from their bedding, pollen grains in your backward, smoke and so on. If the sneezing persists, book an appointment with your vet.

Foreign bodies

Being curious critters, these pets may breathe in various things or objects that might irritate their throat and nasal mucous membranes or get stuck in these areas. Things such as debris of grass, small seeds among another thing can make them sneeze. 

Usually, when caused by foreign bodies, you may notice your rabbit sneezing accompanied with discharge, inflammation and so on.

If the foreign bodies get stuck inside the respiratory tract for a long time, they can cause infections. Therefore, if you suspect foreign bodies, you need to see your vet for removal which may include surgery.

Furthermore, congenital skull bone problems or abnormal bone growth may cause “inflammation, sneezing, and discharge; symptoms appear as bones change and develop.” [2]

Also, dental disease can cause these deformations of bones including the root of molars and premolars intruding into the skull. This can block tear ducts.

Rabbit sneezing fits and wet nose

Any of the above reasons can cause sneezing and a wet nose if it causes discharges. You may not notice the discharge since your pet may be wiping it using their forelimbs. Matted fur on their forelimbs may indicate a discharge.

Rabbit keeps sneezing

When this occurs continuously for some time, it can and can be so bothersome to your rabbits. Allergic rhinitis (causes caused by allergies), as well as foreign bodies, often cause it.

However, infectious cases especially snuffles, can cause continuous or non-stop sneezing in extremely severe cases.

In such severe cases, humidifiers, as well as the use of nebulizers to administer oxygen as well as treating or dealing with the underlying causes, is the way to go. 

Rabbit sneezing with no discharge or snot

Usually, in most instance,  symptoms such as a runny nose (nasal discharge), teary eyes, coughing, labored breathing, conjunctivitis and so on often accompany sneezing.

If there is no discharge or snot, the causes could be a foreign body or something else. Let your vet examine your pet in case it has this problem.