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Rabbits/Bunny diagnosed without any tests.


I have a 13 week old rabbit who has been sneezing since the day I got him. At first I thought it was because he went from being an outside rabbit to an house rabbit. But when the sneezing didn't stop I took him to the vet. The vet (the only one within driving distance of me) knows a bit about rabbits but I wouldn't call him 'savvy' diagnosed him with an upper respiratory infection and put him on Baytril. But he also told me not to give him any hay and to keep him separated from his bonded mate. I did not do either of those because he gets stressed when his mate is not around and he eats more hay than anything else.

After 7 days of treatment he is showing no change at all so I took him back. The vet listened to his lungs and said they now sounded clear and he was putting on weight as he should. But without doing any tests said he has either Pasteurella or bordetella. He said that it was a lesser strain because he has clear discharge and is gaining weight. He refused to give him more antibiotics unless the symptoms do not go away after the 10 day treatment.

My concern is his mate and my other rabbit. All of these rabbits are together pretty much all of the time. I am in the process of bonding my oldest rabbit with this rabbit and the other rabbit. Neither rabbit other than the sick one are showing symptoms of anything and I have had this little guy for almost a month now. The vet keeps telling me to separate them. Should I separate them?

Dear Cassie,

Holy smokes.  I feel as if today is Bash the Vets Day.  I've had several questions that made me really question whether the attending vet should be seeing rabbits at all, and yours is another.

No, certainly DO NOT separate the bunny from his bonded mates.  That would be courting disaster.  Also, do not stop offering hay.  The vet may think the bunny has "allergies", but I have yet to hear of a confirmed case of a hay allergy in a rabbit.  Some hay can be dusty, but if your bunny lives in a well-ventilated area and the hay is good quality with minimal dust, then I really doubt it's the hay causing the problem.

That said, Baytril is probably a fine first choice for an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), though vets disagree about how long to continue the medications.  Some say for several days after all signs of infection are gone, and others say no more than 10 days.  The latter is reasonable because you don't want to really disrupt the normal, healthy bacterial flora in the rest of the body.  But if the infection really isn't going away, then there is a chronic insult that's promoting infection.  This can be anything from a genetically weak immune system to dental disease (though this would be unfortunate in a 13 week old baby, since it means there's a congenital dental problem).

Please read:

for additional information.

But I might consider taking bun to another vet for a second opinion.  Try the list linked here for a referral:

I hope this helps.



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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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