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Rabbits/Rabbit Is Breathing Oddly?



So, I am not totally sure if this is a breathing problem, but I've observed for about almost a day now (night to morning) that my rabbit has been moving oddly while breathing.

To clarify, she has been eating, drinking, playing around, etc. I don't hear any noise/wheezing or anything while she breathes. This is different from rapid breathing, because it looks like she sways/rocks very slightly back and forth while breathing. Should this be a concern?

It's hard to describe, but the best description I can give you is that she sways/rocks back and forth (while breathing) just like after a rabbit has done a lot of running or exercise...however, it's very slow and not rapid.

It's not easy to tell unless she's laying down or sitting still, then I could see her body rock very slightly forwards and backwards.

Thank You!

Dear Hayley,

It's difficult for me to picture this, but it sounds as if she's just taking deep enough breaths to cause her to rock a little bit as her chest expands against the floor (or whatever she's lying on).  As long as she is not showing any difficulty breathing, this isn't an emergency.  But it might not be a bad idea to schedule a wellness check with your trusted rabbit vet and ask about having a chest radiograph taken to be sure she is not suffering any type of congestion (or a mass, such as a thymoma) that would make her need to take deeper breaths than normal.

It could be that in this warmer weather she's panting a little.  But I can't tell without seeing a video.

In any case, if you are concerned, then I would get her to an experienced rabbit vet for a wellness check to be sure there are no underlying problems that are best addressed early.

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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