A rabbit sneeze may sound cute but, if left untreated, a persistent sneeze can develop into a life-threatening respiratory illness. While they do not get colds like humans, rabbits often deal with respiratory infections, which present symptoms similar to that of the human cold, including sneezing, nasal discharge, a runny nose and difficulty breathing. Consult a rabbit-savvy veterinarian immediately if your rabbit begins displaying such symptoms.
Common Health Problems
Snuffles, a highly contagious respiratory infection, presents itself with such symptoms as persistent sneezing and a runny nose and eyes. Snuffles may be caused by one of a number of bacteria, such as pasteurella, so your rabbit-savvy vet likely will need to run a culture test to determine the exact cause and the best course of treatment. If not treated as soon as possible, snuffles can quickly progress to pneumonia.
If your rabbit is diagnosed with snuffles he should be kept away from other rabbits in the family. Thoroughly wash your hands after handling, especially if you will be touching another rabbit, to avoid transmitting the bacteria to your healthy rabbit.
An untreated sneeze can quickly develop into life-threatening pneumonia if your rabbit doesn't immediately receive treatment from an experienced veterinarian. Symptoms of pneumonia include difficulty and loud breathing. Your rabbit likely will need oxygen to assist in making his breathing easier in addition to prescribed antibiotics.
Your rabbit's runny nose and eyes may be the result of dental problems. While a rabbit of any age can suffer from dental problems, such as molar spurs, these issues are most common with older rabbits. Your vet may recommend trimming or complete removal of the molar spurs to help alleviate chronic runny nose and eyes.
Never give your rabbit oral amoxicillin or oral penicillin as both are often lethal for rabbits.
Consult a Rabbit-Savvy Veterinarian
If your rabbit begins sneezing or displaying any symptoms of a respiratory illness, make an appointment with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian immediately. If your rabbit is suffering from snuffles or pneumonia, the veterinarian likely will prescribe antibiotics. Give your rabbit the dosage as prescribed by your veterinarian. Even if your rabbit appears to be back to normal, continue giving the medication unless your veterinarian instructs otherwise. Stopping medication too soon could result in a relapse.
Do not wait until your rabbit gets sick to find a rabbit-savvy veterinarian. Rabbits are considered exotic animals and not all veterinarians are trained to care for them.