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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
  • Fever
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Dehydration
  • 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:[1]

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Mycobacterium spp.
  • Pasteurella multocida

Anecdotal fungal causes include the following:[1]

  • 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.[1] However, it can be a result of difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) or following administration of oral medications, forced feeding, or tube feeding.[1]

Factors that can increase susceptibility to pneumonia in rabbits include the following:[1]

  • 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.