What is Pneumonia?

This disease can cause severe respiratory compromise and distress. Rabbits often mask any symptoms of illness and may only start showing obvious symptoms once the disease has progressed to advanced stages; therefore, it is vital that if you are concerned your pet may be suffering from respiratory illness you contact your veterinarian.

Pneumonia in rabbits is caused by the inflammation of the lung parenchyma. The symptoms often include reduced appetite, sneezing or coughing, and lethargy. In severe cases cyanotic mucous membranes, coughing of blood or open mouthed breathing can be seen. This can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or allergens in the home environment.

Youtube Play

Pneumonia Average Cost

From 557 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Pneumonia in Rabbits

The symptoms vary between cases, often depending on the severity, nature and length of affliction, the age and immune-competence of the rabbit.  

  • Anorexia or reduced appetite 
  • Dyspnea and tachypnea
  • Discharge from the nose and eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing and coughing

In advanced or acute cases, the following symptoms may be seen:

  • Recumbency 
  • Shock hypothermia
  • Cyanotic (blue tinged) mucous membranes
  • Coughing of blood
  • Open mouth breathing with neck extension and dyspnea
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Pneumonia in Rabbits

The cause of pneumonia in rabbits can be bacterial, viral or from non-infectious factors in the environment. 

Non Infectious Pneumonia

  • Allergies
  • Smoke, aerosols and dust
  • High ammonia levels from an unclean environment 

Bacterial Pneumonia 

  • Pasteurella multocida 
  • Chlamydia
  • Staphylococcus aureus 

Viral Pneumonia

  • Pleural effusion disease
  • Myxoma virus 
  • Herpes virus
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Pneumonia in Rabbits

Your veterinarian will perform a full clinical examination on your pet and discuss his diet and history with you. Clinical history or symptoms that may indicate pneumonia to your veterinarian are change or reduction in appetite, recent stressors such as change in housing or social environments, anorexia, fever or dyspnea. Your veterinarian will auscultate your pet’s lungs which may indicate the disease. Your veterinarian may choose to do following diagnostic tests: 

  • Blood chemistry to provide a baseline on your pet’s health, particularly beneficial if anesthesia is indicated; in bacterial infections, these may also show sepsis or leukocytosis
  • Urine tests to check for urinary tract health
  • Thoracoscopy may be used to collect tissue biopsies or examine the thoracic cavity
  • Radiographs of the thorax to visualise lung density 
  • Cytology and microbiology investigations may be performed using a nasal, tracheal or bronchial wash which are able to confirm bacterial pneumonia and identify causative bacteria for specific treatment
arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Pneumonia in Rabbits

Treatment for your rabbit will vary depending on the cause of the disease. 

Supportive Care

Your pet will be admitted into the hospital and closely monitored in a quiet, warm environment. As anorexia can quickly lead to hepatic lipidosis or gastric stasis in rabbits, close nutritional support will be given and syringe feeding may be indicated. 

Anti-inflammatories may be given as a form of pain relief, the hematology and chemistry will allow your veterinarian to assess the safety of these drugs as they are contraindicated in pet’s with liver or renal diseases. As dehydration often occurs in this disease fluid therapy can be used to support hydration in your pet. 

Medication

The cytology and microbiology results will allow your veterinarian to choose the most effective antibiotic therapy for your pet. He may require systemic antibiotic treatment for 6 weeks or more. Ophthalmologic antibiotic products have been shown to be beneficial when instilled into the pet’s nostril.  

Additional Therapy

In severe cases, oxygen therapy may be considered for your pet. If septicemia and toxemia have occurred intravenous fluid and antibiotic therapy may be indicated.

Surgery

Abscessation may occur, in these case surgical removal may be necessary via a thoracotomy. Your pet will require a general anesthetic for this surgery, which has risks involved, your veterinarian will be able to discuss these risks with you.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Pneumonia in Rabbits

The prognosis for your pet is dependent on the cause of the disease. Unfortunately, in most cases the prognosis is fair to guarded. Your pet will need careful veterinary monitoring and regular revisits following improvement. Recurrent pneumonia is common in pets who do recover. To reduce the chance of reoccurrence the following steps can be taken:

  • Avoiding stressors 
  • Providing excellent nutrition 
  • Good husbandry and use of disinfectants
  • Isolation of affected pets during treatment and the infectious period 
  • Careful control of environment temperature, ventilation and humidity
arrow-up-icon

Top

Pneumonia Average Cost

From 557 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

arrow-up-icon

Top

Pneumonia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

mr.Bunz

dog-breed-icon

Holland Lop

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Runny Eyes, Stuffy Nose,

i have a 3 yr old rabbit who was diagnosed with pneumonia about 3 months ago and i have been giving him his medication ever since, and he isn't getting better. Is it something else? Im getting really worried

Sept. 9, 2018

mr.Bunz's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

A

dog-breed-icon

Lionhead (mini)

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

No Fever
Heavy Breathing
No Appetite
Holding Nose Up
Infectious
No Reaction To Antibiotics

I keep pet rabbits in my flat and have lost 2 rabbits due to infectious pneumonia (autopsy), but couldn't find the direct cause and the 3rd rabbit (4 years old) is symptom free. First rabbit (4 years old) contacted the disease from unknown source and died in just 2 days regardless of the antibiotic treatment (no fever, no sneezing, no mucus, just heavy breathing - holding nose up and no appetite). 3 months later got another rabbit (10 weeks old), but couldn't 100% quarantine it in a 1 room flat. The new rabbit had nasal discharge and mild sneezing from day one which got better but in ~1,5 weeks he suddenly developed similar symptoms and died in pneumonia in 3 days. Got a different kind of antibiotic that time. We are afraid to adopt any new rabbit as a companion for the remaining one which seems to be a symptom free carrier. Any advice? :(

June 19, 2018

A's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

That sounds like it may be a nasty viral infection that the remaining rabbit is immune to. I'm not sure that I would bring in any new rabbits, given the recent history of the other two rabbits, sadly.

June 19, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

Pneumonia Average Cost

From 557 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Need pet insurance?
Need pet insurance?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.