4 Things Rabbit Owners Need To Know About Pasteurellosis

Posted on: 6 October 2015


Pasteurellosis, also known as snuffles, is a serious respiratory disease that can affect rabbits. Here are four things you need to know about it.

What causes pasteurellosis?

Pasteurellosis is caused by pasteurella multocida, a type of bacteria. This bacteria is naturally present in many healthy rabbits' bodies, but it doesn't make all of them sick. If your rabbit remains healthy, its immune system can keep the bacteria under control, but if it gets sick or stressed, the bacteria may take the opportunity to multiply and cause infection.

Your rabbit can also get the illness from contact with infected rabbits. If your other rabbits are ill, make sure to quarantine them to avoid spreading the illness.

What are the symptoms?

Pasteurellosis causes cold-like symptoms such as sneezing, sniffling, and congestion in rabbits. Rabbits with congested noses tend to make very loud "snuffling" noises when they have this illness, so if you notice changes in your rabbit's breathing, make sure to take them to a vet. Snuffles can also cause other symptoms like sores on your rabbit's skin or head tilting. If pasteurellosis isn't treated, your rabbit may develop pneumonia, which can be potentially life-threatening.

Can it be treated?

Pasteurellosis is treated with antibiotics. It's important that you see a vet with experience treating rabbits as rabbits can be harmed or even killed by antibiotics that are safe for other types of pets. Common antibiotics like amoxicillin or penicillin can be dangerous, but as long as you see a vet that is knowledgeable about rabbits, you don't need to worry.

The trouble with some antibiotics is that they disturb your pet's digestive system. A rabbit's digestive system uses bacteria to break down food. The wrong antibiotics can kill these helpful bacteria and allow dangerous bacteria to overgrow within the digestive system.

Can your rabbit make you sick?

If your rabbit has pasteurellosis, you need to be careful, as the bacteria responsible for the disease can be spread to humans. In humans, Pasteurella multocida can cause a lot of problems, depending on how it enters your body. If your sick rabbit bites or scratches you, the wound could become infected. Inhalation of the bacteria can lead to respiratory tract infections or swelling of the lymph nodes. Life-threatening health problems like meningitis can also be caused by this bacteria.

To keep yourself healthy, make sure to wear gloves and a mask while you're handling your sick rabbit. Also, remember to wash your hands regularly. If your rabbit is sniffling and sneezing, take them to a vet like River View Veterinary Service LLC right away.