If you notice that your rabbit breathes quickly, the alarm bells will certainly ring immediately.
However, health problems are not always the cause.
Fast breathing in your rabbit can also have perfectly normal reasons. Nevertheless, you should observe the animal closely, because there are scenarios that make a visit to the vet inevitable.
Find out what they are now!
Normal breathing behavior of rabbits
Rabbits breathe faster than humans or larger mammals.
A breathing rate of 30 to 60 breaths per minute is normal.
Accelerated breathing can also occur, however, and is a warning sign indicating, for example, heat, illness or stress.
This is because then either the heartbeat is accelerated and thus the oxygen demand is higher, or the body tries to cool itself down and produces this by evaporating more moisture.
Both increase the respiratory rate such that the rabbit may appear to be pumping or panting.
This in itself is not a cause for concern. However, very rapid breathing can be an indication of disease or other problems.
When does a rabbit usually breathe faster?
In order to distinguish between normal and accelerated breathing, you should first know the possible reasons.
It is also important to know any other signs that may be present besides breathing.
Always pay attention to the overall condition of your rabbit.
Common triggers are
Fear or stress
physical exertion or stress
foreign bodies in the airways
- Anxiety and stress
When your rabbit is anxious or stressed, his heartbeat speeds up. This causes the body to use more oxygen and the respiratory rate also increases.
If this is only for a short time, for example, because the animal is frightened, you do not have to worry.
However, stress and anxiety should never become permanent conditions. This weakens the immune system and increases the risk of diseases such as infections.
You can recognize fear and stress by the fact that your rabbit ducks and presses on the ground or runs away and hides. The eyes are dilated. In addition, an animal may strike the ground vigorously with its hind legs to warn conspecifics.
Our guide to rabbit body language can be found here.
If this occurs very often, you should urgently check the attitude.
The location of the cage and the composition of the group are crucial for the well-being of your rabbits.
In summer, the temperatures in the apartment can get very high very quickly.
This is also true for the cage.
Rabbits do not have the opportunity to go into the shade or onto cooler ground, as is given and used outdoors. As a result, the body temperature rises.
In these cases, rapid breathing causes more moisture in the respiratory tract to evaporate. The evaporative cooling in turn cools the mucous membranes and thus the blood.
An extreme form of this is panting.
Although this is a normal process that is intended to prevent damage, there is also a risk of overheating or heat stroke in the home.
So again, this is a warning sign that you should respond to.
Provide shade, cool air, water and a cooler place for your animals. A fan, proper ventilation during the summer and thick curtains or blinds are useful. Air conditioning is also recommended if your home gets very warm. This is the case, for example, in the attic.
But shade and cooler areas should also be provided in the outdoor enclosure.
Never put your rabbits in the blazing sun!
Ideally, offer them the opportunity to create earth pits.
- physical exertion
Playing, chasing each other playfully, and hooking, will keep your rabbits fit and have a higher quality of life.
Muscles and circulation are exercised and supply is improved.
Just as people are “out of breath” during or after physical exertion, the same is true for animals. Muscle work causes the heart to beat faster and metabolism to speed up.
This also means that more oxygen is needed.
However, this is only a cause for concern if your rabbit is breathing rapidly after only a few steps and seems overtaxed even at low exertion.
In this case, an immediate visit to the vet is necessary, because possible causes are an acute illness but also overweight or other restrictions.
The latter can result, for example, from an injury that has not yet been noticed.
Diseases of the heart, lungs or infections in other areas can severely weaken your rabbit.
This weakening will make breathing more difficult and faster,
However, this is usually accompanied by other signs. These may include the following symptoms:
loss of appetite
increased or decreased temperature
resting of a part of the body
reduced drinking quantity
avoidance of touching
changes in the amount, shape, color or consistency of feces
altered urine output
Pain from injury, infection, or digestive tract discomfort may also cause accelerated breathing.
In this case, as in the case of illness, rapid action is required.
The symptoms are similar to those of diseases. In addition, a relieving posture can occur.
Triggers may include the following factors:
fights between the animals
ingestion of toxins or foreign bodies
dislocations during escape or panic behavior
- foreign bodies in the respiratory tract
Foreign bodies in the airways can be, for example, a small piece of hay or fibers. But also tumors may be responsible for an obstruction in the trachea.
Because of this, not as much air gets through the airway, your rabbit has to breathe more often and faster.
In any case, this should be clarified by a veterinarian, because such a problem does not solve itself. However, the spectrum here can range from a blade of grass, which can be easily removed, to cancer.
If your rabbit is making whistling noises or breathing is labored and rapid, you should see a veterinarian immediately.
When is rapid breathing a concern?
If you can’t immediately pinpoint a cause such as strenuous physical activity, a startle, or heat, you should take your rabbit to a veterinarian.
If breathing is very rapid, it may be an emergency that needs to be treated immediately.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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