Does my rabbit have a cold

Rabbits get a cold as quickly as we humans do. The symptoms are also very similar to our human cold. The medical term for a rabbit cold is rhinitis contagiosa cuniculi.

Contagious rabbit rhinitis is caused by various bacteria, but the bacterium Pasteurellamultocida is mainly responsible.
The first signs of rabbit rhinitis should be taken very seriously, because if left untreated it can quickly develop into pneumonia and become fatal.
Pathogen from the Pasteurella genus

Actually, it is not only a bacterium that is responsible for rabbit rhinitis. However, the main pathogen is Pasteurella multocida, a bacterium which is then joined by other bacteria of other genera, thus leading to a so-called mixed infection. Pasteurella multocida belongs to the gram-negative, immobile bacteria and belongs to the Pasteurellaceae family.

The bacterial species is not only found in rabbits with rhinitis, but also in healthy animals. Pasteurella multocida is also responsible for many different diseases, and not only in rabbits.

In humans, diseases underlying this pathogen also occur, but the risk of disease (virulence) is rather low. The route of transmission to humans is mainly through cat bites or scratches, but not through a rabbit with contagious rabbit cold.

Development of rabbit snuffles

Since the trigger of rabbit snuffles is latent in many healthy rabbits, an “external stimulus” must be added to bring the disease to the outbreak.

Most often it is poor housing conditions, rabbits with weakened immune systems, for example, due to illness, stress, age or other circumstances, too high stocking density, etc..

Often the outbreak of rabbit rhinitis falls in the winter months. This allows conclusions to be drawn about possible housing stresses, for example, less green fodder and the associated reduction in physical fitness due to a partial lack of vital substances, high dust exposure due to heating air, especially in domestic rabbits. 


The symptoms of rabbit snuffles are similar to those of human snuffles.

At first, there are rather unspecific symptoms such as dry sneezing, reluctance to eat or watery eyes. As the disease progresses, increased secretion from the nose becomes apparent. In many rabbits, sticky and encrusted forelegs are noticeable. Due to increased blowing, the secretion from the nose now sticks to this area.

This discharge can range from transparent to purulent or greenish and can be both copious and less massive in extent.

Many rabbits also suffer from watery, red eyes during a rabbit cold. Again, secretions may be copious and take on a purulent color.

Due to the blocked nose, very loud breathing sounds can sometimes be heard in sick rabbits, sneezing is also one of the symptoms that point the direction of this disease.

If rabbit rhinitis progresses further, it can spread to the lungs and cause pneumonia or lung abscesses. Likewise, the disease can spread toward the ear and lead to middle ear or inner ear infections, which is often indicated by a tilted head.

Appetite suffers even with minor symptoms of the disease and does not necessarily indicate the severity of the disease.

Treatment of rabbit rhinitis

A visit to the veterinarian should be considered at an early stage if contagious rabbit dourine is suspected.

On the one hand, the pathogens can be treated well by rapid medical intervention and late consequences such as a carry-over with later gradual infestation of the lower respiratory tract and resulting death of the animals can be averted.

On the other hand, an exact determination of the pathogen is only possible with the appropriate laboratory technology. If the rabbit is already suffering from respiratory distress, an x-ray can also provide information about the extent and spread of rabbit cold.

In mild cases, it is often sufficient to support the immune system of the long-eared patient and, if necessary, to administer mucolytics. Inhalations with sea salt help to liquefy the secretion and make it easier for the body to eliminate it. In some cases, nasal irrigation can be performed or the secretion can be aspirated (baby nasal aspirator).

Likewise, “drinking a lot” is, as so often, a good home remedy to help the sick rabbit, because this also liquefies the usually viscous secretion faster and can then be expelled from the body.

If the symptoms of contagious rabbit cold are severe, treatment is usually with an antibiotic specific to the pathogen. Additional measures such as immune system support are also desirable and helpful in this case.In order to minimize the germ pressure, it is also necessary to provide a quiet and hygienic environment for the sick rabbit.

Preventing rabbit rhinitis

Although there is a vaccination against rabbit rhinitis, this is often not recommended, because it is only an immunization against a separate pathogen. In most cases, however, it is not a monoinfection, but several pathogens are involved.

The most important prevention against rabbit cold is therefore the best possible husbandry and feeding of the animals. Particularly in winter, care should be taken to ensure that domestic rabbits have adequate ventilation, are kept free of dust and that the ambient air is kept moist. A varied diet with all vitamins and minerals should also be provided.

The stress factor should also be kept away from the rabbit. Unnecessary transportation should be avoided, the rabbit’s needs (choice of partner, favorite rabbit mate) should be met to the best of the rabbit’s ability, and as much space as possible should be provided.

Hygiene also plays a major role in the prevention of rabbit colds. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the cage and furnishings should be a matter of course, as well as special treatment for sick animals.

Our tip
Thorough hand washing after contact with sick animals to avoid infection of conspecifics through contamination.

Similar Posts