November 28, 2022
Rabbit making noises when breathing

Why does a Rabbit Making Noises when breathing?

If a Rabbit making noises when breathing, it may indicate difficulty breathing. We understand that being a pet owner isn’t an easy task and how important it is to be attentive about the signs and symptoms. So, if you are worried about seeing your rabbit breathing abnormally, then it’s okay. However, consulting the vet would be one of the best things in such a situation. When a rabbit has difficulty breathing through its nose, they try to breathe from its mouth, and this condition also signals respiratory disease. If you notice any unusual signs in your rabbit’s health, then you should take it to the vet. Throughout this article, we will discuss various signs, causes, and treatment options if a rabbit makes noises when breathing. If your rabbit is also facing difficulty breathing, stay tuned and keep reading this article.

How do you know if a Rabbit is struggling to breathe?

To know if a rabbit is struggling to breathe, you need to monitor your pet’s breathing closely. Sometimes you may hear the noise while your rabbit is breathing, and that’s when you know you should take the rabbit to the vet. You should understand that being reckless isn’t an option while taking care of your pet. So, consulting the vet is necessary whenever you notice any sign of injury and illness. We will look at the signs, symptoms, and causes in case your rabbit is struggling to breathe.

Signs if your Rabbit is struggling to breathe

Recognizing the early symptoms of any severe health condition can increase the chances of survival, and that’s why you should know the various signs and symptoms of such diseases. Here are some symptoms that would let you know if your rabbit is having difficulty breathing or not.

Nasal Discharge

As mentioned before, if a rabbit makes noises when breathing, then it might have some respiratory problems. You may see that your rabbit has watery, white, or yellow nasal discharge. However, the Pasteurella infection discharge is thick, white, and creamy. It also leads to a common respiratory problem, “sniffles,” which causes nasal discharge and upper respiratory tract infections. Generally, it highly affects the rabbit when accompanied by stress and poor husbandry, and consulting a veterinarian can help. So, if you see your rabbit having an unusual nasal discharge, then you should take advice from the veterinary doctor.

Congested Noses

Sometimes, congested noses also lead to abnormal breathing. It is also accompanied by discharge, sneezing, and coughing. Unclean nasal passageways can trouble your rabbit’s breathing. So, it is necessary to keep the rabbit’s grooming schedule intact. Rabbits like to groom themselves, but they can’t reach all body parts. That’s why the owner should assist them.

Bringing them to the grooming parlor or veterinary clinic is also a good option. It is crucial to be careful with your pet in such situations. Your rabbit may get stressed if you don’t do anything about it.

Look for the dirty face and paws

Another sign that indicates that your rabbit is struggling to breathe is a dirty face and paws. To clean their nose, rabbits end up getting dirt on their face or paws. A sick rabbit will also avoid grooming. So, whenever you see you’re not spending enough time grooming yourself, you should know that it is happening because the rabbit is sick. Consult the vet to deal with the situation.

Unusual head Tilting

The rabbit would unusually tilt its head when it felt unwell. Sometimes in rabbits, the bacteria travel from the throat up into the ear, and it causes an ear infection. If your rabbit is also tilting its head often, it may suffer from an ear infection. Instead of something unnecessary, you can seek help from a veterinary doctor. Tell them all the symptoms you have noticed so far and do whatever the doctor suggests.

Change in posture

Yes, an unwell rabbit also changes its posture. Generally, the rabbit adopts a posture with a straight neck and head. Remember, standing erect sometimes can be normal in some rabbits. It doesn’t also indicate that your rabbit suffers from any respiratory or health disease.

Change in appetite

Most of the animals stop eating or eat less when they are sick. So, a change in appetite is also a sign of sickness if your rabbit struggles to breathe. You should know that a rabbit’s diet is a primary source of energy, and any change in their diet can make them weak. A rabbit must have a proper diet. But when it isn’t eating enough or eating less, it indicates ill health. You should consult the vet of your rabbit to know the cause behind the changes in appetite.

Inspect the eyes

Rabbit’s eyes will also tell you if your rabbit has any health issues. Now, you might be wondering how rabbit eyes are related to respiratory problems. Any health complication can lead your pet to stress, and stress can cause abnormal breathing. If your rabbit is suffering from any infection, you can also see its impact on its eyes. As a result, you will notice that your rabbit has a slight discharge from the eyes. Seek the veterinarian’s help if it is getting severe.

See if the rabbit’s cage is dirty

Cleanliness is crucial for humans and animals, but if you neglect it, your pet may suffer difficulty being healthy. So, you are advised to keep the living space of a rabbit clean and with basic needs. Rabbits prefer cleanliness, and if they are staying in a dirty cage, you should be concerned. Staying in an unclean cage is unusual, and you should know it. Other than that, you should know that playing and doing exercise keeps a pet healthy. So, if it is spending more than usual time in its hutch, you should consult the vet.

Causes of abnormal breathing in Rabbits

When we know somebody, we easily catch when they are normal and abnormal. The same goes for the pet rabbits and their owners. When you are close enough with your pet, it is easy to know when they are sick or healthy. However, knowing the causes and symptoms also helps. Here are some causes that may lead your rabbit to have abnormal breathing.

Improper grooming

The first and foremost thing that can cause these respiratory complications in your pets is improper grooming. We have mentioned earlier that dirty cages, paws, face, and nasal discharge are the signs that indicate that your rabbit isn’t doing well. That’s why it’s crucial to keep your rabbit’s body and living space clean. Like cats, rabbits spend a large amount of time cleaning themselves, yet they cannot clean their whole body. That’s why they need your assistance while cleaning themselves. If you don’t think you can help your rabbit grooming, you can get help from the vet. Remember, it’s better to keep the rabbit clean than to see it in a vulnerable situation.

Unclean Environment

Along with keeping the body of your rabbit clean, you should also pay attention to its hutch or cage. Clean the living space to keep it away from severe diseases. Give them fresh water in clean water so don’t get dehydrated. If your rabbit may seem sick, then you need to be more careful; otherwise, its health might suffer. Make sure that your rabbit’s bedding is clean and dry. Otherwise, wet and dirty beds can cause harm to your rabbit. It can also lead the rabbit to various infections.

Stale water and food

Giving free access to water is important, but don’t forget to clean the bowl or bottle. Unclean and stale water won’t keep your rabbit hydrated, but it will give your pet several other deadly diseases. If you constantly provide dirty water and food to your rabbit, it may develop severe disease and end up having respiratory problems as well.


The causes of rabbits making noises when breathing are pretty common. But it can get severe if accompanied by other symptoms. So, you need to be aware whenever your rabbit’s behavior seems unusual. To treat this condition, you should consult a veterinary doctor. You are requested to explain the whole situation and the signs and symptoms you noticed earlier. If the abnormal breathing stays for a longer time, it can be fatal.

  • Visit the veterinarian: Avoid doing anything on your own if you have heard a noise when your rabbit is breathing, and consult the veterinarian. Be careful with your rabbit because pets get stressed during vet visits.
  • Discuss the symptoms: Tell the symptoms and changes you have seen over the past couple of days. It would help the vet while diagnosing the cause of abnormal breathing.
  • Follow the vet’s suggestions: Once the vet finds out the cause, you must eliminate it from your rabbit’s routine. Otherwise, it will keep having the same problem again and again. Do whatever the vet suggests keeping your rabbit safe from any other health issue.

Can abnormal breathing lead your Rabbit to different health issues?

Any complication in breathing can lead to respiratory problems in rabbits. If other complications accompany the symptoms, then your rabbit’s condition can get severe. That’s why it is crucial to recognize early symptoms, and it will help the rabbit get better on time and live a healthy life. We have mentioned earlier the causes of a rabbit making noises when breathing, and here are some health issues your rabbit might face if it makes noise while breathing.

Viral Infection

Rabbits and other animals are likely to catch the viral infection if harmful viruses increasingly spread within their body. The viral infections can also cause breathing difficulties in rabbits. However, viral infections aren’t that common in rabbits that means there are fewer chances your rabbit may suffer from viral infection. But still, you need to be careful because breathing problems can make things worse for your pet. Yet they are susceptible to getting the viral disease (myxomatosis) in several locations such as Europe and Australia. Myxomatosis was introduced to control the feral rabbit population in this area.

This viral disease is life-threatening, so you need to avoid it at any cost. Symptoms of myxomatosis include Lethargy, Milky Eyes, Breathing difficulty, ulcers, and fever. To prevent myxomatosis viral infection, you should use the following tips:

  • The first and foremost thing you can do is keep your rabbit clean as it will stay away from flystrike.
  • An unclean environment can also be harmful to the rabbit. So, if the rabbit lives in an environment with mosquitoes, you must use the mosquito net around its cage or hutch.
  • Keep your rabbit away from fleas, and if you don’t know what to do, consult the vet. You must also keep the other animals away unless they are updated with flea protection.

Remember, only prevention can save your rabbit from a viral infection, and otherwise, it may end up taking your pet’s life.

Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections are caused by Pasteurella multocida, Mycoplasmas, Pseudomonas, and Chlamydiosis. These infections are the most common type of infection found in rabbits. If you keep the hutch or feeding utensils unclean, then your rabbit may catch a bacterial infection. When your rabbit is suffering from a bacterial infection, then you may see the following symptoms –

  • Rabbits may start breathing through the mouth rather than the nose.
  • Your pet’s breathing may get slow.
  • You may see changes in the appetite.
  • Lethargy
  • Flaring of the nostrils

Whenever you notice any of the listed symptoms in your rabbit, you should consult the vet immediately. However, here are some precautions and treatment options you can adapt to keep your rabbit safe –

  • Make sure the environment your rabbit lives in is safe and clean. Keeping the cage, litter box, and toys disinfected is crucial.
  • During winter, keep your rabbit warm, and if you are shifting your rabbit from outside to inside, you need to make sure that the temperature is optimal.
  • Hold your rabbit carefully and wash your hands before handling the rabbit.
  • It would be best to keep your rabbit away from kids and other pet animals.


Humans and animals also get stressed when they find themselves in an uneasy situation. Being stressed can also affect the breathing of your rabbit. So, it would be best to keep your rabbit away from any trouble; otherwise, you see him struggling. Rabbit suffers from a health condition and is likely to get stressed after a period. If the stress is chronic, your rabbit may face severe breathing difficulties. Some stress-related breathing problems in rabbits have the following symptoms –

  • Excessive gnawing at themselves.
  • Self-soothing repetitive behavior of rabbits.
  • Regular agitated grunts in rabbits.
  • High-pitched screeches.
  • Heavy Panting.

Stress weakens the immune system of rabbits. So, you must be aware that your rabbit is stressed or even scared of something. Additionally, here are the causes that may cause stress in rabbits. It will help you prevent unfortunate events in the future and keep your rabbit away from any severe health condition.

  • Being handled improperly or too often.
  • Uncomfortable and uncleaned living space.
  • Feeding with wrong sorts of food or not feeding enough.
  • Drastic changes in temperature, diet, and even environment.
  • Congested and dirty cage and litter pan.
  • Feeling threatened by predators or other pet animals in the household.
  • Prolonged health suffering period such as dental problems, viral infections, and others.
  • Accompanied by a very dominant rabbit.
  • Spending more than usual time in the cage.

Any of the listed causes can lead your rabbit to stressful conditions. So, you must avoid doing anything inappropriate to keep your rabbit away from stress as well as breathing problems.

Allergies and Irritants

Just like bacterial and viral infections, allergies and irritants can also cause breathing problems in rabbits. You should know that allergies are quite rare in rabbits but not paying attention can worsen the situation. But there are potential irritants that cause because of –

  • Air fresheners and perfumes.
  • The smoke of cigarettes and fire.
  • Carpet cleaning products.
  • Ammonia, a substance present in rabbits’ pee.
  • Dust

Most of the diseases in rabbits are caused due to an unhygienic environment. So, keep the cage or hutch of your rabbit clean and away from any other pets. You are requested to set your rabbit’s home in a safe place; otherwise, they would feel threatened. Fear always puts an animal in a stressful situation. Along with a clean space, you should pay attention to grooming.

Respiratory Infections

If you hear noise while your rabbit is breathing, it may indicate respiratory infections. Rabbits are likely to have a respiratory infection, so keep it safe and healthy. If you ever noticed any unusual activity in your rabbit, then consulting the vet would be an appropriate thing to do. Bacteria, Fungi, Viruses, and Parasites can cause respiratory infections in rabbits. Please don’t take it lightly because these types of infections can lead your rabbit to death.

Do Rabbits snore, and is it normal?

Snoring is harmless and normal for rabbits. Not all rabbits snore, but if yours do, then you don’t have to worry about that. Some pet owners get worried when they see their rabbit snoring, so you should seek the help of a veterinary doctor in such cases. You must discuss the symptoms with your rabbit if they randomly start snoring or making noises.

Why is my Rabbit making noises?

Animals make noises to communicate with the owners. Rabbits usually make sounds such as Muttering, honking, growling, clucking, grunting, and teeth grinding. If you hear any unusual sounds from your rabbit, then take it to the vet. Let them know whatever you have noticed for the past few days.

Final Thoughts

That was all about the reasons why a rabbit makes noises while breathing. I hope you find this article informative and helpful. We have thoroughly discussed the different health conditions accompanied by abnormal breathing. You must always pay attention to the signs and symptoms that indicate the health complications in your rabbit’s behavior. Taking care of a pet is no joke; that is why you need to be attentive all the time. Other than that, if you have anything to add, then you can leave it in the comment section. Your valuable suggestions help us to do better.

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Peyton Taylor

Hey readers! My name is Peyton Taylor, and I help others to have a great experience with their pets. Nothing compares to the happiness of having a healthy and affectionate pet. My sole purpose is to assist newbies and experienced pet owners to learn more and more about the behavior and character of their pets.

View all posts by Peyton Taylor →

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