Diseases of the Rabbit Respiratory Tract

Key Points

  • Pathogens commonly cultured from the rabbit respiratory tract include Pasteurella multocida, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter spp., and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • A subtle sign of upper respiratory disease in rabbits may be discharge matted on the medial aspect of the forepaws due to the rabbit’s tendency to fastidiously clean its face with its forepaws.
  • Consider nasal foreign body in rabbits with persistent, intractable upper respiratory tract infection.
  • Dental disease can be an important underlying cause of upper respiratory tract disease. Overgrowth of maxillary cheek tooth roots can impinge upon the nasal cavity or nasolacrimal duct causing obstruction and bone remodeling.
  • The only clinical signs seen with pneumonia or pulmonary abscess may be tachypnea and a mild to moderate decrease in activity level.
  • Unfortunately pulmonary neoplasia such as metastastic uterine adenocarcinoma is an important cause of lower respiratory tract disease in intact does.
  • A useful adjunct to systemic antibiotic therapy is nebulization, which serves to humidify the respiratory passages and/or deliver antibiotics.

Rhinitis or sinusitis, sometimes called “snuffles” in laymen’s terms, is usually characterized by unilateral or bilateral, mucopurulent nasal discharge, sneezing, and congestion. A subtle sign of upper respiratory tract disease can be discharge matted on the paws or the medial aspect of the forelimbs. Discharge may collect here as the rabbit fastidiously cleans its face with its forepaws. In the early stages of disease, discharge may not be evident on the nose or even on the paws, however close examination of . . .


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