Rabbit Diseases - Snuffles (Pasteurella)

 
Snuffles in rabbit
  • Rabbit Snuffles are a term that describes a group of upper respiratory disease symptoms which are common in rabbits.
  • Rabbit snuffles are caused by pasteurella multocids.
  • Pasteurella is one of the most stubborn types of bacteria.
  • Upper respiratory infections can come suddenly and turn dangerous to the health of a rabbit.
  • The noticeable sign of snuffles is discharge from the nose. The discharge may have no color at the initial stage. But as the infection increases, the discharge changes from watery to thick and will become yellowish in color.
  • A rabbit with snuffles can be easily identified by the snoring or snuffing sound that it makes when breathing.
  • The route of transmission is via nasal discharge from an infected rabbit as it sneezes.
  • This disease is very contagious and can also affect the eyes, ears, and other organs.
  • If detected early, it can be treated, but it can become chronic or fatal if left untreated.
  • Bacteria are commonly found in the nasal tract of rabbits, but may not cause infections unless the animal is stressed or has a suppressed immune system.
  • Infection may spread into the lungs and around the heart, leaving abscesses.
  • In some severe cases, a rabbit may develop pneumonia or bacteremia (the bacteria enter the bloodstream). In a few cases, abscesses may form under the skin, in joints, or in the internal organs.
  • If the pathogen settles into the bunny’s joints, pain and immobility are likely results

    • Snuffles in rabbit Symptoms:
    • Sneezing and nasal discharge
    • Dizzy, disorientated behavior
    • Breathing difficulty (dyspnea)
    • Shortness of breath if pneumonia or large abscesses are present in the respiratory tract
    • Staining of the front paws (due to discharge collected while self-grooming)
    • Excess salivation
    • Facial swelling (due to sinusitis or head abscess)
    • Loss of appetite
    • Excess tears or blockage of the tear ducts
    • Head tilt, shaking head, and
    • Scratching at the ears if the infection spreads to the ears or the brain/nerves
    • Anorexia
    • Depression
    • Pain from skeletal abscesses
    • Lameness and reluctance to move (when abscesses are present on the soles and toes of the feet)
    • Subcutaneous (beneath the surface of the skin) swelling with subcutaneous mammary abscess.

      Treatment
    • Your rabbit will be treated on an outpatient basis unless surgery is indicated, or the rabbit is exhibiting signs of severe illness, such as blood infection or pneumonia.
    • Treatment will be focused on treating the symptoms of sneezing and fever. Hydration, nutrition, warmth, and hygiene (keeping the nostrils clean) are of primary importance.
    • Antibiotics and antimicrobials will be prescribed for eliminating the bacterial infection, and pain medications or light sedatives may be prescribed while your rabbit recovers.
    • Abscesses will generally be treated surgically, due to the thick pus that rabbits form. As with any other ailments, the sooner your rabbit is treated for the abscess, the easier the procedure and the quicker the recovery.
    • Plugged tear ducts can be flushed and anti-biotic drops given.
    • Nebulizer treatments may be prescribed to help loosen nasal congestion and possibly deliver oxygen and other medication (as prescribed by the veterinarian) to the respiratory tract.
    • Close attention must be paid to the rabbit’s appetite; rabbits will quickly go into gastrointestinal stasis and die if they do not eat. These rabbits may need to be syringe fed and/or given sub-cutaneous fluids to keep them nourished and hydrated.

      Prevention
    • Reducing stress is very important in helping a rabbit from getting infected and reducing the severity of the disease.
    • Common causes of stress in rabbits include poor nutrition, improper housing, chilling, overcrowding, or aggression from other rabbits.
    • To prevent stress, provide the best possible housing.
    • Offer a variety of fresh vegetables and free choice timothy hay in addition to a properly formulated pelleted diet.
    • Also, avoid letting your rabbit come into contact with other rabbits, particularly if they are sick.
    • Because this disease can be transmitted through secretions on your hands and clothes, be very careful when handling other rabbits, and always wash your hands and clothes after handling a rabbit other than your own.