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Do Rabbits Have Allergies?

Common allergens and health conditions that rabbits face.

By Rose Gordon
Posted: March 10, 2008, 4:45 p.m. EST

rabbit sitting outside
Via foshie/Flickr  
This rabbit is healthy, but some rabbits can develop allergies; red eyes and rubbing the face are some signs of allergies.

Your rabbit has red, watery eyes, so you’re wondering: does my pet rabbit have hay fever? Maybe not hay fever, but your rabbit could be having an allergic reaction to something in its cage or in your house.

Rabbit allergies are a "poorly understood, poorly documented” and a "rarely diagnosed” condition, said Margaret A. Wissman, DVM, DABVP – Avian Practice.

Signs that your rabbit may be suffering from allergies include:

  • Red eyes
  • Clear discharge from nose
  • Excessively touching its nose and face with paws
  • Rubbing its face on the ground repeatedly

Common irritants to rabbits include:

  • Carpet cleaning products
  • Carpet & room fresheners
  • Strong scents — use common sense, if something smells overpowering to you, imagine how it must smell to your tiny rabbit.
  • Fireplace fumes — make sure your house is well-ventilated to disperse carbon dioxide fumes.
  • Dust
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Mites and fleas can also cause an allergic reaction, which is often treated with cortisol, said Dr. Susan Smith, a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Wisconsin — Madison and scientific advisor and fosterer for the House Rabbit Society.

After prolonged exposure to allergens, a rabbit could suffer from chronic rhinitis and bronchitis. Wissman indicated that they are also prone to respiratory infections.

Using the same preventive measures suggested for people suffering from allergies, like a fan to circulate fresh outside air in or a HEPA filter, might help relieve your rabbit’s allergies. Removing the offending item from your home is the only way to ensure that the allergies do not return and your rabbit does not develop a more serious condition, such as bronchitis. Your veterinarian may also prescribe corticosteroids or antihistamines to control inflammation.

A veterinarian specializing in rabbits should be able to determine whether your rabbit has an infection or is suffering from allergies by administering a simple blood test.

Posted: March 10, 2008, 4:45 p.m. EST

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Do Rabbits Have Allergies?

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Reader Comments
It is important to remember that "snuffles" - Pasteurellosis is also a very serious disease of rabbits that has the same symptoms as allergies. Watery red eyes, and nasal discharge. If your rabbit has any of these symptoms, don't assume they have allergies, take them to a vet.
Suzanne, Boston, MA
Posted: 10/20/2011 12:00:15 PM
I am so glad my rabbit does not have allergies. I always brush my rabbit every morning so she should not have mites or fleas. AND DON'T FORGET VOTE WENDY COTD. have a nice day!
Aiyanna, Eugene, OR
Posted: 3/15/2009 11:18:47 AM
Christina, Indianapolis, IN
Posted: 10/29/2008 6:15:48 PM
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