Pneumonia is the fully developed inflammatory response to bacteria, fungal infections (mycoses), or inhaled foreign material in the lungs.
- Anorexia, weight loss, and/or lethargy
- Exercise intolerance
- Labored breathing (dyspnea), usually late in the course of the disease
- Signs of previous upper respiratory disease such as nasal discharge, eye discharge, sneezing, facial abscesses, dental disease, and drooling (ptyalism)
Bacterial causes of pneumonia in rabbits include the following:
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Bordetella bronchiseptica
- Moraxella catarrhalis
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Mycobacterium spp.
- Pasteurella multocida
Anecdotal fungal causes include the following:
- Aspergillus spp.
- Cryptococcus spp.
The last cause of pneumonia in rabbits is due to aspiration. In general, rabbits do not vomit, so aspiration pneumonia is rare. However, it can be a result of difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) or following administration of oral medications, forced feeding, or tube feeding.
Factors that can increase susceptibility to pneumonia in rabbits include the following:
- Age. Neonatal and young rabbits have an immature immune system.
- Overall health. e.g. injured animals, concurrent disease, stress, corticosteroid use.
- Dental disease. Abscesses, fractured teeth, and malocclusion that causes mouth injury can all provide an entry route for bacteria.
- Reduced level of consciousness. e.g. stupor, coma, anesthesia
- Grooming habits can result in a bacteria-contaminated coat which can further contaminate the environmount.
- Close contact with another infected animal.
- Poor husbandry such as dirty, molding bedding and poor nutrition
- Inhaled irritants such as ammonia building from dirty bedding, dusty hay, bleach or other strong disinfectants, and smoke.
- Oglesbee, B. (2011). Blackwell's five-minute veterinary consult: Small mammal. (2nd ed.).