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Rabbit Respiratory Disease (Snuffles, Pasteurellosis)

By: Dr. Heidi Hoefer

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Optimal treatment for your rabbit requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your bunny does not improve quickly. Follow-up may include:

  • Administer all prescribed medications as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems with the treatments. Diarrhea or inappetance might indicate a problem with the medication. Do not let these side affects go untreated by your veterinarian. Diarrhea can be very serious in a rabbit.

  • If the respiratory symptoms do not improve within 2 weeks or if the rabbit gets worse while on the medication, contact your veterinarian for further treatment. Sometimes an antibiotic change can make the difference. In other non-responsive cases, further testing may be necessary.

  • Provide a dust-free environment for your rabbit. This may mean removing the shavings and frequent vacuuming of the floors. Decreasing irritation in the nasal passages can help in healing.

  • Keep runny eyes clean by rinsing with a sterile eye preparation like saline or a product dispensed by your veterinarian. Warm-water soaked cotton balls can be used to break up crusts around the nose and eyes.

  • Try to minimize stress in the home environment. This means no loud foreign noises or menacing pets or children. Rabbits are very prone to stress which can delay healing.

  • Separate actively sneezing and eye discharging bunnies from cagemates.

  • The best prevention is to not take home a sick bunny and to isolate any bunnies showing symptoms. Once the rabbit is showing symptoms, the disease will run it's course which can be mild or severe. Working closely with a rabbit veterinarian is your best protection against disease progression. Some rabbits will spontaneously recover but the majority of cases need medical therapy and even then some of these bunnies cannot completely recover.

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