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What is Snuffles (Pasteurellosis)?

If your rabbit is suffering from the snuffles, you may notice him develop watery eyes, a runny nose and sneezing often. This is typically caused by an infection of his tear ducts or nasal sinuses. 

Due to the symptoms being generalized, it may be somewhat difficult to identify what your rabbit’s concern is. His symptoms may mimic other conditions rabbits can suffer from such as respiratory diseases, dental concerns or a poorly ventilated hutch. 

If this infection is left untreated it can result in abscesses, blindness, and can travel to your rabbit’s ears, eyes, reproductive organs and other organs. It is important to be vigilant about getting him to the veterinarian quickly if you suspect snuffles.

The snuffles are caused by the bacterium pasteurellosis, which your rabbit may have in his own body or encounters. It presents as a runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. This is relatively common and not typically life threatening.

Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) Average Cost

From 396 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$450

Symptoms of Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) in Rabbits

Most of the symptoms identified will be general to multiple conditions, however below are some things to look for.

  • Runny eyes – tear ducts can become clogged resulting in even more discharge
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Head tilting – due to neurological damage, your rabbit may develop a head tilt
  • Skin sores
  • Matted fur – your rabbit may rub his runny nose and that discharge mats the fur on his paws
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Causes of Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) in Rabbits

The cause of the snuffles in this case is contact with the bacterium pasteurellosis. This is a bacterium that naturally occurs in rabbits, however it can turn into a problem. Due to this bacterium being so highly contagious, it is easy for rabbits to spread the infection to one another. While some rabbits are immune to this bacterium, there is still a large amount that are not.

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Diagnosis of Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) in Rabbits

If you suspect your rabbit may have a case of the snuffles, a visit to his veterinarian will most likely be in order. It will be important to share with your veterinarian what signs and symptoms you have noticed and for how long. The veterinarian may want to know if your rabbit has been around other animals who appeared to be sick or have similar symptoms.

A physical exam will most likely be performed to identify any obvious reasons for his snuffles. Your veterinarian will want to rule out diet and housing as possible culprits for his symptoms as well. Further tests may be requested including bloodwork and samples of any discharge. These tests will confirm if pasteurella is the cause of your rabbit’s problems or not. 

At times the veterinarian may attempt to make a diagnosis based solely on history and physical, however that will not guarantee your veterinarian identified the correct bacteria. X-rays and other imaging tools may be utilized as well to determine if there are any other possible symptoms of the bacteria.

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Treatment of Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) in Rabbits

Treatment will begin with antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection. These medications can be administered for up to a few months to fully treat the infection. Certain antibiotics can be dangerous for rabbits, so it will be necessary to find a veterinarian that is well versed in the antibiotics that are safe for rabbits. 

To treat clogged tear ducts, your veterinarian may flush his tear ducts in the office and teach you how to do it at home. If your rabbit is experiencing neurological symptoms, those will be treated to keep him comfortable also. If there are any abscesses found because of the infection, those may have to be surgically removed as well.

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Recovery of Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) in Rabbits

Follow up will be ongoing for the remainder of your rabbit’s life as this disease can go dormant. Your veterinarian will direct you as to how often you should bring him in for a checkup. It will be important to stay on top of any medication management as they can be long term. Feeding changes may be necessary if your rabbit is not eating and you must feed him with a syringe until he is stronger.

Keeping his environment clean and free of any contamination will be important to avoid further infection. Isolating any other infected animals will be necessary as well. Your rabbit’s prognosis is good if the treatment is begun immediately. Antibiotics may work quickly and rapidly clear up his infection, however, it may also be a longer-term process.

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Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) Average Cost

From 396 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$450

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Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Little Jay

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Dutch

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Running Nose
Wet Nose
Loud Breathing
Nose Discharge

I’m not sure if my rabbit has the sniffles. He has always been a loud breather since I got him at 1 month. He also has always had a runny nose and watery eyes with eye boogers. Could he had it?

July 15, 2018

Little Jay's Owner

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If Little Jay has a wet nose (with or without wet front feet) it may be an indicator of Pasteurellosis; allergies or chemical irritants may also cause similar symptoms. You should have Little Jay examined by your Veterinarian to determine the cause and to prescribe treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 16, 2018

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Timothy and his sister, Tulip

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Dwarf Holland Lops

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4 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Repetitive Sneezing/Eue Infection
Repetitive Sneezing/Eye Infection

My sweet 19 week old dwarf Holland Lop, Timothy, was neutered 2 weeks ago. He started sneezing a couple of days later. I took him back to the vet and she said (by examining him, but without doing blood test) that the surgery lowered his immunity and he contracted snuffles and an eye infection. She put him on 0.2cc Baytril Oral Suspention compound twice a day, for 10 days, which he's a trooper about taking. He's been on it for a week now. He continues to have fits of sneezing, in which he twitches his little head, then rubs his face and nose with his paws. It is heartbreaking. Ibtold the vet that I also have his sister, Tulip, who I had to separate from him a month before his surgery, to keep him from mounting her. It's been very difficult keeping them apart since they were bonded. The vets office hsd told me just to allow them to be side by side in their cages. I keep them mostly inside, allowing them to take turns having the run of two bunny proofed rooms, and take them out to a hutch and outdoor corral for supervised play time, when the weather isn't too hot. Before his surgery, as soon as I would release one or the other, they'd immediately run to eachother and rub noses through the cage wires. 😭🐰 since Timothy's diagnosis, I've put a solid plastic see-through barrier around his cage to protect Tulip, which very much upsets her. Now my question: I was hoping to reunite the bunnies once Timothy healed from his surgery, and his male hormones were gone. Does his illness now require me to keep them apart forever? The vet said that Tulip probably already has the snuffles bacteria in her system, just isn't exhibiting the sypmtoms. She is scheduled to be spayed in September. Now I'm afraid to have her go through the surgery, fearing she may get snuffles symptoms if she's weak after surgery. I'm so sad that I bought both bunnies so I could raise them together, and now they have to be separated. I'm so stressed about the situation. My husband and I adore these furry babies and are heartbroken for them. I don't fully feel comfortable with the vet because she isn't patient about answering questions, but since she did the surgery, is now treating Timothy, and is the only bunny vet I know of in the area, i feel I must continue with her at least through this current situation. Please help! Thanks for your time.

July 15, 2018

Timothy and his sister, Tulip's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Pasteurella multocida is suspected to be present in the nasal cavities of healthy rabbits (as many as 90% depending on the literature cited) so this is always taken into consideration when testing a rabbit for an upper respiratory tract infection. If you’re worried about spaying Tulip, you should think about the high probability of uterine cancer developing which is a common cause of death in female intact rabbits. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/exotic-and-laboratory-animals/rabbits/bacterial-and-mycotic-diseases-of-rabbits#v3306442

July 15, 2018

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Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) Average Cost

From 396 quotes ranging from $200 - $800

Average Cost

$450

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