No rabbit owner wants their rabbits to get sick. But it can happen, no matter how much care you take. To detect disease early, you need to understand the symptoms. A typical cold symptom in humans is a cough. But do rabbits also cough?
Rabbits can cough, or at least make a sound that sounds like a cough. In most cases, this is completely harmless. However, it can also indicate some kind of allergy or respiratory disease, which can be very dangerous if left untreated.
So when rabbits cough, be careful. It can be quite harmless, but also a sign of a potentially serious disease. We’ll explain in more detail below whether rabbits cough and what the reasons are.
We’ll then also look at how to recognize a respiratory disease in your rabbits, what factors can exacerbate respiratory disease, and how to treat it.
Table of Contents
Can Rabbits Cough?
Rabbits, just like us humans and many other animals, can also cough. Coughing is first of all only an important protective reflex of the body. It is a symptom, not a disease.
The important question, however, is what triggers a cough. The reason behind a cough can be quite worrisome. It also depends on whether a cough is brief or whether the cough persists over a long period of time.
For example, the cough reflex may be triggered to clear dust from the throat. This is a sensible idea of nature but does not pose a danger.
The situation may be different if the cough is triggered to remove foreign bodies or mucus from the airways.
Foreign bodies can get stuck during eating and restrict breathing. In the worst case, you can choke on a foreign body in the airways. The purpose of coughing is to dislodge this foreign body and remove it from the airways.
If there is excessive mucus in the airways, this may be a sign of a respiratory infection. Respiratory infections can quickly become dangerous in rabbits. a simple cold can easily turn into pneumonia in rabbits.
Therefore, it is important to know the possible symptoms of respiratory disease in rabbits. If you discover such symptoms in your rabbits, you should quickly contact your vet.
A cough can also be caused by allergies in rabbits. Allergies also irritate the respiratory tract and can trigger a cough reflex. However, you can cure such a cough usually quite quickly by removing the trigger of the allergy.
Why Do Rabbits Cough?
Rabbits cough for basically the same reasons we do. A cough is triggered by special receptors that react to certain stimuli.
The purpose of the cough is to remove the stimulus trigger by explosively expelling breath.
There can be many reasons for a cough. However, they all have to do with the fact that some stimulus triggers the receptors and they initiate a cough.
Below we describe some causes of a cough in rabbits. Among them are some harmless causes, but also causes that you should take seriously.
Rabbits Cough Because of Dust in the Respiratory Tract
The most harmless cause of a cough in rabbits is that they have dust in their airways. This dust irritates the respiratory tract so that the receptors trigger a cough to remove the dust.
This is something that happens frequently. Fortunately, it is absolutely harmless and should not cause you any concern. If your rabbit only coughs sporadically, this could be the cause.
Rabbits Cough Because of Foreign Bodies in the Respiratory Tract
Another cause of a cough in rabbits is that there is a foreign body in the airway. This may be food, for example.
Normally, the cough should remove the foreign body from the airways again. Only in very rare cases can it happen that the foreign body is stuck too tightly and is not removed by coughing.
In the worst case, this can cause your rabbit to suffocate. But these cases are really very rare.
Rabbits Cough Because of Allergies
Allergies can also be a cause of a cough. Your rabbit may be allergic to something near it.
Especially moldy hay, straw, and bedding can cause such allergies. Cleaning products, detergents, fabric softeners, perfumes, room fragrances, houseplants, etc. can also cause such reactions.
If you have an allergic reaction, your rabbit will probably not only cough but also sneeze and have other cold symptoms.
If you suspect that your rabbit is showing an allergic reaction, you should first clean his home thoroughly and change the bedding. Try using natural hay as bedding.
If that doesn’t lead to any improvement, consider what cleaning products you use around your rabbit. Try other cleaners, maybe even some that are naturally based.
You can also remove plants that are near the rabbit. Put the plants in another room for a few days and see if the cough improves.
Rabbits Cough Because of a Reflux
Reflux means that stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. If you also struggle with this problem yourself, you know how unpleasant it can be.
Reflux can also be a trigger for a coughing fit. The stomach acid can irritate the airways and thus trigger a cough reflex.
However, there is not much you can do in this case. You can at least try to change your rabbit’s diet to find out if certain foods trigger the reflux.
Rabbits Cough Because of Respiratory Diseases
The most dangerous trigger for cough in rabbits is respiratory diseases. You should not take respiratory diseases in rabbits lightly.
Even a minor cold can turn into pneumonia in a rabbit if not treated.
A cold will come with other symptoms in your rabbits. Pay attention to these symptoms. If you discover several symptoms, you should ask your vet for advice. Your vet will be able to give you a diagnosis and suggestions for treating your rabbit if necessary.
What Should I Do When Rabbits Cough?
A cold will come with other symptoms in your rabbits. Pay attention to these symptoms. If you discover several symptoms, you should think about seeing your vet.
First of all, there is no need to panic. In most cases, the cough will have a completely harmless reason.
Observe the cough for the time being. Does the cough occur only once or very rarely in your rabbits? If so, the rabbit probably just had a little dust in their airways.
Or do they cough often and regularly over several days? Can you detect any other symptoms of an allergic reaction or a cold?
If you suspect an allergic reaction, try to determine what is causing it. Then eliminate one possible cause at a time. It is important that you eliminate one cause at a time so that you can determine what exactly triggered the allergic reaction.
If you suspect a cold or respiratory illness, see your veterinarian! Such an illness is not to be trifled with in rabbits! In the worst case, it can be fatal if left untreated.
Conclusion: Do Rabbits Cough?
Cough in rabbits can have various causes. These can be harmless, but also dangerous.
If you are not sure or the cough persists for a long time, ask a vet for advice.
If the cough is a sign of a cold, it is necessary that the rabbit is treated. Otherwise, pneumonia may develop as a result.
If the cold is not treated, the rabbit may die in the worst case.
Take good care of your rabbits and watch for any symptoms.