‘My rabbit caught a flu and kept sneezing!’

‘ I bought a rabbit and the pet shop said its nose is runny because of the air-con.’

‘ My rabbit’s nose is always wet because he has sinus, like me!’

While there’s a tiny possibility the above are true, we don’t think so. Instead, a rabbit-savvy vet will explore Pastuerella as a potential cause. Commonly known as ‘snuffles’, this bacterial infection is increasingly common, especially in baby rabbits from pet shops. If left untreated, can result in a painful death.

Pastuerella is a bacteria that is part of a rabbit’s normal upper respiratory flora. A healthy rabbit can control the bacteria but a sick, senior or stressed rabbit with low immunity may show clinical signs such as sneezing and nasal discharge. It can affect various organs of the rabbit including the lungs, eyes, bones and even the brain, develop abscesses and result in paralysis.

A rabbit-savvy vet will conduct a culture and blood test to confirm the infection and its impact. If other organs are impacted, X-Ray, ultrasound or even CT Scan maybe necessary. Immediate medical treatment involves antibiotic (oral and/or injectable) but recovery can be lengthy and intensive which will require a dedicated caregiver.

To prevent an infection caused by Pasturella, we should provide a balanced diet, stress-free environment and plenty of exercise to our rabbits. A happy and healthy rabbit will have high immunity to kill and control the bacteria.