A rabbit’s sneeze may sound cute at first. You may even eagerly wait for the face-washing that usually follows a sneeze as it really is an adorable sight. But when your bunny keeps sneezing, your delight may quickly turn to concern. First-time bun-parents, especially, can find the situation alarming because they don’t have much experience in taking care of their fur-baby and, as such, may not have a clue as to why their rabbit keeps sneezing.
Rabbits sneeze for several reasons, some of which are trivial, while a few are a cause for concern. To help you recognize when you should take your bunny’s constant sneezing seriously, let’s look at what typically causes this condition.
Why do rabbits sneeze?
Rabbits sneeze because something irritated their nasal passages. Your bun’s cute button nose is pretty sensitive, and lots of things can send your pet into a sneezing fit.
It may come as a surprise, but rabbits can suffer from allergies, too, and coming into contact with allergens in their environment may trigger a round of sneezing.
Also, certain medical conditions can have the same effect.
Here are some of the causes:
Dust particles can irritate your rabbit’s nasal passages and cause him to sneeze. It’s not just house dust that can trigger this reaction. Hay dust can also have the same effect. Poor quality hay tends to be dusty, so get the best type of hay you can afford for your bun.
2. The bedding or litter
Ammonia build-up in soiled beddings is one of the common causes of a rabbit’s sneezing. To provide relief for your bun, change dirty bedding or litter immediately.
But even unsoiled bedding can cause allergic reactions. Pine or cedar litter releases phenols, a class of chemical compounds that can cause respiratory irritation to your bun.
Is there a cigarette smoker in your household? If so, cigarette smoke may be the reason why your bunny keeps sneezing. Like humans, secondhand smoke can affect your pet, so don’t be surprised if your bun starts sneezing when you light up a cigarette. The potent chemicals released in the air by the burning cigarette can inflame your rabbit’s respiratory tract. The same thing can happen with fireplace fumes and vape vapors.
House rabbits are more likely to be affected by smoke than buns who live outdoors because there’s less fresh air to dilute the airborne irritants.
4. Dental issues
Your bun’s teeth never stop growing. If they’re not sufficiently filed down, they can become too long and possibly irritate the nasal passages, causing frequent sneezing.
5. Respiratory infection
If a clear, white discharge accompanies your rabbit’s sneezing, this may be a symptom of a blossoming respiratory infection or what is often referred to as snuffles. Different types of bacteria, such as Pasteurella and Bordetella, can cause snuffles.
This is a serious condition, and your pet needs prompt medical attention as buns with respiratory infections may stop eating, which can complicate matters further.
Symptoms of respiratory infection in rabbits:
Aside from frequent sneezing, respiratory infections have the following symptoms:
- A snotty nose: Snot is a thick, yellowish or whitish discharge nasal discharge. Having a snotty nose can be dangerous to your bun. Rabbits are obligate nose breathers. This means they breathe mainly through the nose, making it difficult for them to take in air through the mouth the way humans do when their nasal passages are blocked. Consequently, snot can lead to breathing difficulties in rabbits.
- Snoring sound when breathing: Although some buns who don’t have any health issues snore, if your fur baby with no history of snoring started doing so, this may a sign that mucus is clogging up his nasal passages.
- Lack of appetite: Rabbits love their food. They’ll gladly gobble up the leafy greens and pellets you dish out. But when they feel under the weather, they can lose their appetite. If your bun refuses to eat anything, even the yummy treats you offer, consider it an emergency and take him immediately to the vet. Rabbits need to eat. Lack of food in their digestive tract can lead to fatal consequences.
- Difficulty breathing: Coughing, wheezing, or attempts to breathe through the mouth indicate that your bun is having trouble breathing due to something that’s blocking his nasal passages. If your rabbit keeps sneezing, then excessive mucus might be causing the obstruction.
- Lack of energy: Rabbits are not constantly running and jumping around all day. However, a normally frisky bun who just lies around and seems unwilling to move may be experiencing some health issues.
- Drooling: If your bun drools, it may be because he’s struggling to breathe through his mouth. Frequent sneezing along with drooling can signal the development of respiratory infection in your pet.
What to do if your rabbit’s sneezing is due to illness?
If sneezing occurs because of illness, a visit to a vet who knows rabbits is the best option. The sooner you do so, the better, as things can quickly go downhill. Your bunny’s doctor needs to identify what particular bacteria are causing the infection and prescribe the proper medication.
If your pet is having trouble breathing because of a clogged nose, you can try suctioning out the mucus with a pediatric syringe.
What to do if your rabbit keeps sneezing despite being healthy?
If your bun isn’t suffering from any illness, you can try making changes in his environment and your habits to see if that will eliminate the sneezing. Your vet can help you figure out what can be triggering the reaction from your pet.
You can also do your own research. Through trial and error, find out what may be irritating his respiratory tract. Remove potential allergy sources from your bun’s surroundings one at a time and take note of the offending object or substance.
You don’t need to worry every time your rabbit sneezes. Just be ready to take proper action if you feel that his condition is getting worse. Best of all, keep your fur baby healthy with good nutrition, enough exercise, a clean environment, and lots of love.
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