Runny Nose in Rabbits

Runny Nose in Rabbits - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
20 Veterinary Answers

Prepare for unexpected vet bills

Runny Nose in Rabbits - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Prepare for unexpected vet bills

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What is Runny Nose?

You will be happy to know your rabbit can not catch the human cold from you, therefore you did not give him anything. Runny noses are unfortunately a wide-ranging term used to describe a set of symptoms your rabbit is experiencing without identifying why they are experiencing them. 

There are a few conditions that snuffles can be a symptom of such as bacterial infection, lower respiratory tract infection, foreign bodies, dental disorders and chronic runny eyes or noses. It will be important to pay attention to the many other symptoms your rabbit is experiencing to determine if a veterinarian visit is in order or not.

Runny noses in rabbits is a common symptom and is thought to be found in up to 10% of all rabbits. There are many possible causes of your rabbit’s runny nose, some are more serious than others.

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Runny Nose Average Cost

From 208 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$350

Symptoms of Runny Nose in Rabbits

Symptoms will vary greatly depending on what the cause of your rabbit’s snuffles are. The main symptom you may notice your rabbit is experiencing is going to be discharge from his nose. This may be anywhere from a thin, clear discharge to a thick white mucus. 

  • Discharge from the nose
  • The discharge may be thick and white
  • The discharge could be clear
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Causes of Runny Nose in Rabbits

The causes of your rabbit’s runny nose will most likely be due to one of the following: respiratory infections (when the lungs are affected this is known as a  pneumonia,  Pasteurella is a common cause of upper respiratory tract infections), foreign bodies or dental disorders.

Lower respiratory infection

  • Typically develops as pneumonia in your rabbit 
  • This is a common condition in pet rabbits 
  • Can be caused by many different infections your rabbit can contract 
  • Change in breathing patterns – You may notice your rabbit begins to have louder and raspy breaths
  • Nose pointed in the air – Your rabbit may begin to point his nose in the air when breathing;  this is done to stretch his neck and get more oxygen (this is a very serious symptom and should be treated quickly) 
  • He may appear to be: listless (no energy, inactive and no enthusiasm) , anorectic (losing weight, not eating), dyspneic (difficulty breathing or catching his breath), and develop a fever

Upper respiratory infection

  • Referred to as snuffles
  • Often caused by the bacteria Pasteurella multocida
  • This can be acute or chronic – it is an inflammation of your rabbit’s mucous membranes
  • Not found in the lungs, but rather in the upper respiratory tract 
  • There may be a thin discharge from his nose or eyes 
  • The fur of his front legs may be matted or he might have thinned out fur due to the discharge from his eyes and nose
  • Sneezing and coughing 
  • Abscess under the skin 
  • The bacterial infection can also move to his genitals, ears, and internal organs

Foreign bodies

  • Runny noses may occur when your rabbit gets something lodged in his nasal passage
  • Growths in your rabbit’s nose or nasal passage can also be the cause of his symptoms
  • Signs tend to be unilateral

Dental disorders

  • This can be a common cause of runny nose in rabbits
  • There can be problems with his teeth, roots, jaw bone and more
  • There may also be abscesses in his mouth
  • Eating may be affected and rabbits may slobber and have wet fur under their mouth
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Diagnosis of Runny Nose in Rabbits

If you suspect your rabbit’s runny nose is more than just an acute issue and you are concerned, bringing him to his veterinarian may be necessary. It will be important to share with your rabbit’s veterinarian what symptoms you have noticed, the timeline of when the symptoms began and if there may be any other causes for his symptoms.

Your veterinarian will want to perform a physical examination to check for any lumps, bumps, fever and more. However, if it is not possible to determine the cause of his runny nose from a physical exam, testing may be necessary. Your veterinarian may want to do an x-ray or use other imaging tools to determine if your rabbit’s teeth are the problem and to assess the heart and lungs.

A sample of the discharge coming from your rabbit’s nose or eyes may be taken to test for the specific bacterial infection he is dealing with. Blood work can also be taken to be used alongside x-rays for confirmed diagnosis of infections or other underlying causes of the runny nose.

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Treatment of Runny Nose in Rabbits

Treatment of your rabbit’s symptoms will be dependent on the cause of his symptoms. Your veterinarian will discuss options with you depending on what they find. 

Upper or lower infections

If your veterinarian finds your rabbit is suffering from an upper or lower respiratory infection, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories will most likely be the course of action. There are a variety of antibiotics that may be trialed, however some are more commonly used than others.

Baytril and Orbax are two of the more well-known antibiotics used to treat 'Snuffles'. These medications can be used in high doses; there are some possible side effects but rarely are they seen in rabbits. 

Treatment with antibiotics does not always cure the infection but may keepsit at bay for the time being. Up to 8 weeks of treatment is sometimes necessary to treat your rabbit’s condition completely. Another option for treatment of Pasteurella is to euthanize the rabbits that are infected from rabbits that are not. This allows for isolating the rabbits not infected and prevent future outbreaks.

Foreign bodies

Foreign body removal is easier and has a relatively quick treatment option. In the event the item can be seen and removed without causing your rabbit any pain, you can do that. However, if you cannot see anything in his nose, but suspect that might be the issue your veterinarian can find it and remove it once your pet is put under anesthesia. The same can be done for polyps or growths as needed.

Dental disorders

If the cause of your rabbit’s runny nose is based on dental concerns, your veterinarian may want to rasp any teeth that are causing his symptoms. If it is necessary to treat abscesses of the gums, that may be the course of action as well.

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Recovery of Runny Nose in Rabbits

Follow up will be dependent on what treatment was provided for your rabbit. If he goes through surgery, your veterinarian will discuss follow up appointments as needed. If he is on a course of antibiotics no follow up will be necessary unless symptoms persist. 

It can take up to 8 weeks for your rabbit to get back to his normal self, although he may begin to improve soon after treatment is begun. Changes may need to be made in regards to keeping him isolated from other infected rabbits if infection was the cause of symptoms. Changes to diet may also be necessary if a dental disorder was the underlying issue. 

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Runny Nose Average Cost

From 208 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$350

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Runny Nose Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Tochtli

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Silver Fox

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3 Months

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

Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Running Nose

My bunny has a bit of ongoing wetness around his nose (only his nose and not his paws), it's clear and watery, i can hear his breathing if i put my ear next to his nose but nothing weird when listen to his lungs, he sneezes a few times throughout the day but apart from that he's eating, pooping and playing just fine, he's freerange and i have tile flooring, i try to sweep as often as i can and refrain from using cleaning products, two people in my house smoke a lot but not near him and we have other pets but he's not in contact with them. Could this be something caused by the enviroment, like some kind of allergy or should i worry about something more serious? I was also wondering about treating rabbits with homeopathic medicine, is it safe?

Aug. 24, 2018

Tochtli's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Homeopathy has been proven to be ineffective in numerous studies and the one study which proved it works has never been able to be replicated, it is nothing more than sugar pills; in short, they wouldn’t cause any harm but don’t waste money either. A runny nose may be related to infections (Pasteurellosis among others), allergies, chemical irritants (cigarette smoke included) among other causes; I cannot say without examining Tochtli whether there is an infection or not, but it would be good to visit a Veterinarian before the weekend to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 24, 2018

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benny

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Lop

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3 Months

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Discharge Out Of Right Nostril

i have a 3 month old lop bunny and he has recently had clear/white discharge coming out of one nostril. i have heard him sneeze but his breathing is the same and not loud. he does not have any other signs of illness. he recently got a new hutch, im wondering what could be wrong could he have an infection in only one nostril? Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/rabbit/condition/runny-nose

Aug. 23, 2018

benny's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Sometimes infections may start with discharge from only one nostril, you should keep an eye on him but it would be ideal to visit your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side. Without examining him I cannot confirm that it is an infection, allergy, foreign object or another issue (dental etc…). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 23, 2018

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Runny Nose Average Cost

From 208 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$350

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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