Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) in Rabbits: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) in Rabbits: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Snuffles is one of the most common illness that strikes domestic rabbits. Nearly every bunny breeder or long-term bunny owner has dealt with or is at least familiar with this devastating breathing disease. This disease is very contagious and can also affect the eyes, ears, and other organs. If detected early, it can be dealt with, however it can become chronic or fatal if left untreated. This post will assist rabbit owners determine, comprehend the treatment, and avoid snuffles in their own rabbits.

Snuffles (Pasteurellosis) in Rabbits: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Snuffles is a general term explaining a group of upper breathing signs. While there can be various causes of these infections, the most typical and usually accepted cause of snuffles is infection with the bacteria Pasteurella multocida. There are a number of different strains of these gram unfavorable bacteria and depending on the strain that contaminates a particular bunny, the signs can be either moderate or severe. Some pressures are frequently discovered in the nasal tract of bunnies, however might not cause infections unless the animal is stressed out or has actually a reduced immune system.


The signs of snuffles can be varied, but are generally associated with the upper breathing tract. Numerous infected rabbits will initially establish a watery nasal discharge followed by sneezing then a thick, whitish to yellowish nasal discharge. These infected rabbits will frequently make a loud snuffling or snoring sound due to the fluid and mucous in their nasal systems. Because rabbits groom their faces with their front paws, infected bunnies will often have discharge and mats on the within their forepaws.

The disease can also travel to their eyes triggering conjunctivitis and a resulting discharge, or it might take a trip to their ears triggering ear infections. These ear infections can then cause ‘torticollis’ (wryneck – twisting of the neck), head shaking, scratching, a head tilt, disorientation, circling, or failure to stand. The infection will often clear up in the nose, however be persistent in the ears. In some severe cases, a bunny might develop pneumonia or bacteremia (the bacteria enter the bloodstream). In a few cases, abscesses might form under the skin, in joints, or in the internal organs.


Snuffles is typically treated with antibiotics for 14-30 days. Antibiotics commonly used consist of enrofloxacin (Baytril), ciprofloxacin, and trimethoprim sulfa. Bunnies need useful bacteria in their intestine to assist in food digestion and they often have to be supplemented with these bacteria during and after antibiotic treatment; therefore, these drugs should just be used under strict veterinary assistance. In severe cases, encouraging treatment consisting of fluids and additional nutrition may need to be offered also.

If the strain of Pasteurella multocida is a mild one and the immune system of the infected rabbit is strong, the symptoms might be moderate and the animal will recuperate without treatment. However, if the strain is aggressive or the animal has a weakened immune reaction, the disease can be severe, chronic, as well as fatal. The objective with treatment is to use an efficient antibiotic at the first signs of infection. If the infection chooses days or weeks without treatment, it is most likely that it will become chronic and really tough to get rid of. In most cases, the signs of the disease might vanish, but the bacteria are generally still present, only in smaller sized numbers. Even in cases that are treated early, some animals will still establish chronic infections in their sinus passages that require long-term treatment, or perhaps long-lasting treatment to keep them under control.


Snuffles is an extremely contagious and hard disease to treat, so prevention plays a very vital function in attempting to control and remove this disease. Breeders need to take unique preventative measures including strict sanitation and quarantine procedures. For the family pet bunny owner, the best avoidance is to choose a healthy rabbit. When picking an animal for purchase, make sure that she is devoid of all signs of infection, consisting of a runny nose. When selecting a young bunny, the mom and all the litter mates ought to likewise be devoid of all signs of disease. If you purchase from a breeder, it is also a good idea to observe all the rabbits on location and make sure snuffles is not present.

The disease can be present in the nasal cavities without the bunny revealing any signs of disease, so a healthy-appearing bunny can still establish signs later if he is stressed. Minimizing stress is also essential in helping a bunny avoid infections and minimizing the seriousness of the disease if he does end up being infected. Common causes of stress in bunnies consist of bad nutrition, improper real estate, cooling, overcrowding, or hostility from other rabbits. To avoid stress, offer the best possible housing. Offer a variety of fresh vegetables and totally free option timothy hay in addition to a properly formulated pelleted diet. Likewise, avoid letting your rabbit entered contact with other bunnies, particularly if they are sick. Since this disease can be transferred through secretions on your hands and clothes, be really careful when dealing with other bunnies, and constantly wash your hands and clothing after handling a rabbit other than your own.

Snuffles is a disease that can have disastrous effects to bunnies. Because it is so contagious and prevalent, rabbit owners have to understand its signs and seek veterinary attention at the first sign of disease. By comprehending the disease and taking preventative measures against it, rabbit owners can help reduce both the severity and incidence of this disease.

Also read: Why Do Rabbits Eat Their Poop?

D. Roberts (Junior Expert)
Pet Health
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  1. Danny

    My brother used to keep two rabbits. One day one of them started this disease, and he did not start to treat. As a result, the rabbit died.