Why Do Rabbits Breathe Fast and is it Dangerous?

Rabbits generally have a faster breathing rate compared to other animals and humans. But why do rabbits breathe fast and is it dangerous? You may sometimes feel that it is unusual, but it may be the average respiratory rate. This faster breathing process is entirely natural for them, and its significant fluctuation may indicate any respiratory issues and illnesses.

Rabbits are small rodents with sensitive organ systems that work fixedly and are distorted with abnormal body changes or routines. Let us learn about more issues and facts regarding the fast breathing rate of rabbits in this article.

rabbit breathing fast

Why do Rabbits Breathe Fast?

Apart from the general fast pace of breathing in rabbits, sometimes respiratory issues are common and fatal in bunnies which may pose severe threats to their health in the long term.

You must look for any abnormal behavior regarding the breathing of your bunnies to get the essence of any underlying respiratory conditions.

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A systematic watch on your rabbit’s eating, sleeping, and playing would help detect any distressing movements in their breathing patterns.

Rabbits are strictly nose breathers, so any blockage and obligation in their nasal cavity can obstruct breathing properly and health deterioration in bunnies.

A blocked nose is a common yet fatal reason for fast breathing in rabbits and is relatively easy to recognize for pet owners. It is also essential to seek medical assistance from the vet to treat this condition immediately.

What Else Can Cause My Rabbit To Breathe Fast?

Rabbits are nasal breathers by nature and depend on their nose for their respiration process. Any deformed nasal structure can pose a problem in breathing for your bunny, along with exuding weirdly pitched noises from the nose.

Rabbit, Rabbits, Domestic Animal

It is not an easy task for pet owners to straightaway detect the cause of their bunny’s fast breathing, but some of the common causes are listed below, considering various facts:

  • Elongated teeth
  • Abscesses
  • Sinus infection or Rhinitis
  • Bacterial or Fungal infection
  • Allergies due to dust, insects, or pollen grain inhalation
  • Nasal pathway tumors
  • Insect bites
  • Swelling in the respiratory system
  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Inflammation in palate or throat
  • Neuromuscular system failure

Identifying Baby Rabbit Breathing Problems

Baby rabbits are more sensitive than adult rabbits, with an average breathing rate of 30-60 per minute. A significant fluctuation in the respiration rate of adult rabbits is a serious concern and should be looked after.

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Baby rabbits tend to suffer from the inability to breathe sometimes due to various reasons, which are triggered more efficiently in them than adult bunnies.

Fast breathing is caused due to the presence of insufficient oxygen for them, and their lips and tongue turn blue-black as a result. We can detect respiratory issues in baby rabbits by looking for signs such as:

  • Change in posture
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Dirty face and paws
  • Unusual eyes
  • Head tilting or abnormal reaction
  • Nasal discharge
  • Congested noises while breathing
  • Change the diet and look for any changes
  • Unclean living area

Understand Rabbits Normal Breathing Patterns and Behavior

Rabbits have a standard breathing rate of 30-60 times per minute at rest which may seem faster to you compared to humans and other mammals because the average human respiratory rate is 16 times per minute.

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The breathing rate of rabbits can be considered rapid or abnormal when they breathe more than 60 times per minute and exhibit distinct signs of uneasiness in respiration.

Bunnies that breathe faster than 60 times per minute show signs of various health issues that can be fatal in the long term and affect respiratory health severely.

Disorders like nose blockage, insect bites, nasal injury, pneumonia, and respiratory infection can also negatively change the typical breathing pattern.

Obvious signs about the unusual breathing rate are easily noticeable, but some go undetected and are potentially dangerous if not treated promptly.

Minor respiratory blockages or infections can cause significant harm to your bunny if it is not cured immediately. The sooner the disorder is treated, the chances of recovery get better.

Any form of illness in rabbits should be diagnosed timely and treated immediately to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Treatment For Fast Breathing In Rabbits

Fast breathing in rabbits can be a medical condition that we should treat right away to avoid respiratory disorders.

The appropriate treatment recommended for bunnies having difficulty breathing can be supplementation of oxygen externally to calm the rabbit down and create a suitable and quiet environment.

The unobstructed trachea and nasal cavities are common in bunnies and can be fatal if not cleared immediately.

Supplement oxygen would help keep the ears and nasal passages clean from any mucus/dirt and prevent the development of bacteria and viruses that would cause infections.

Ensuring a nutritional diet and hydration every day is also a way to keep the nose clean and unobstructed at all times.

Medication:

In case of strict necessity, your veterinarian may prescribe you some medications to treat sinusitis, bacterial rhinitis, nasal inflammation, swellings, and other related infections in your bunny.

Sometimes antibiotics are vital for treating issues that cant be cured naturally by any other means.

Lop Eared, Rabbit, Hare, Animal

Environment:

The environment is also an essential factor that affects the respiratory health of rabbits because the less hygienic the enclosure of your bunny, the more breathing issues they will face.

Airway obstruction issues like stridor and stertor are some of the common problems that are associated with poor hygiene.

Ensuring regular checkups and always keeping close monitoring on your pet so that it doesn’t develop disorders like pulmonary edema, lung failure, and fluid retention due to respiratory complications.

Why Your Rabbit Is Shaking And Breathing Fast?

If your rabbit is shaking or breathing fast simultaneously, it is highly possible that they are scared of something or are feeling a kind of fear in that situation. Apart from being scared, there are various reasons why the bunny is shivering and breathing fast:

Meeting someone new or invading their space.

This situation may arise when an unknown person or a stranger arrives at your home and tries to interact with your bunny straightaway without any proper introduction.

Your rabbit may feel insecure in the presence of that new person and would shiver with fear as it doesn’t trust anybody other than the owner.

If you need to introduce someone new to your bunny, take the process slowly and form an initial trust between them by feeding and interaction techniques.

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The arrival of a new pet

If you bring other pets like dogs, cats, etc., to the house, your bunny would need a particular time to adapt to the new dynamics in the household and get used to each other’s presence.

Their interaction should be carried out slowly and amicable to avoid any fuss and a sense of domination between them. Your bunny would be frightened of an animal more extensive than its size and would have the reflex of running or fighting back.

An animal behavior specialist or specialized counseling would help you get the pets along in case of any troubles.

Touched or picked them up when they didn’t want to be disturbed

Rabbits are wild animals and have the defense mechanism of escaping when anyone comes near them or tries to pick them up or grab them. So whenever you handle them without their wish, they would tend to shiver and fear due to the concern for any threats.

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The recommended way to avoid this fearful interaction is to bond strongly with your bunny and lower your level while interacting with them, so they don’t expect a bad vibe from you.

Medical reasons

Suppose you feel that your rabbit is shivering and breathing fast for a long time without any above reasons howsoever. In that case, it may be possible that your bunny is sick or suffering from a respiratory disorder.

Rabbit, Garden, Bunny, Spring, Green

In your bunny, you may see various symptoms like seizures, unconsciousness, shivering, etc., that point towards serious issues. Please take them to the vet immediately for necessary measures.

According to the diagnosis, further treatment of the condition with prescribed medications would be the only option feasible after this point.

How To Prevent Shaking And Breathing Fast In Rabbits?

Shaking and fast breathing of your rabbits are mainly caused by two factors, medical conditions or psychological issues.

If your rabbit is shivering and has a fast respiratory rate, firstly take them to the vet for a regular checkup for ruling out any possible medical conditions; after that, if the problem persists, take care of the following things for prevention of the uneasiness while breathing:

  • Create a strong bond with your bunny before touching or picking them.
  • Always lower your body level while interacting with them.
  • Keep a check on the happiness of your bunny every day.
  • Maintain the environmental temperature between 15ºC and 18ºC.
  • Tell your visitors to be gentle and friendly towards the bunny and avoid sudden movements.
  • Take them to regular checkups for diagnosis of any disorders and ensure their good health.

When Is It Typical For A Rabbit To Breathe Faster Than Usual?

Rabbit’s standard respiration rate is typically faster than most animals and can range from 30-60 times per minute, which is relatively high compared to humans. Bunnies tend to breathe so fast that they seem to shiver and vibrate vigorously, but that isn’t an issue.

This temporary increase in breathing rate can sometimes occur due to various reasons that are entirely normal and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Exercise

Rabbits have a higher activity level in general, especially at a young age which affects their breathing rate during and after exercising or sprinting around the house.

Frequent running and playing make them breathe rapidly, and they take some time to catch their breath and return to normal.

Fear

Rabbits are sensitive at heart and hyperventilate when they feel stress, anxiety, and fear. It is not a problematic situation and frequently occurs in most rabbits because we cannot prevent their short episodes of fear and stress every time.

However, if your bunny can recover from the situation quickly and calm down easily, it is excellent. Anything serious than acute stress conditions should be treated appropriately by the vet.

When a rabbit is afraid, it shows wide eyes, a tight body, thumping its feet, small pelleted poop, and alert body posture. These visible signs will surely help you to tell that your bunny is scared.

Sickness

Rabbits may sometimes breathe faster than usual if they are suffering from pain or illness. This inexplicable discomfort may cause them to gasp and be malnourished due to appetite and respiratory issues.

If this condition persists for a more extended period, you should consult your vet immediately.

Rabbit, Bunny, Hare, Animal, Ears

When you see clear signs of uneasiness or difficult breathing, that indicates that your rabbit is somehow sick in respiratory health and should be taken care of by medications or directions given by the vet.

Hot temperatures

Respiration enables rabbits to maintain their body temperature to a moderate level.

Their exhalation process involves releasing excessive body heat, which is why rabbits breathe at a fast pace whenever they feel hot or overheated. It would be best to find them a cooler place to avoid a heat stroke or body temperature imbalance.

When To Seek Medical Attention For Your Rabbit?

Rapid breathing in rabbits can happen due to various reasons, as we discussed. Suppose your bunny is breathing fast because of exercising, heat, anxiety, fear, behavioral issues, etc. In that case, they will eventually get normal in a short period.

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Still, if they are suffering from any illness or disorder causing pain, an immediate need for medical assistance is necessary from the vet to treat any possible abnormalities.

Such occasions are infrequent and sometimes fatal if not looked after as soon as they are discovered.

Specifically, if the breathing rate is fast for a long time, it is possibly caused by something other than temperature, anxiety, and other temporary factors. The vet must handle this situation immediately, and the necessary treatment must be done for the underlying illness.

If you sense any other symptoms of illnesses and rapid breathing, it may indicate a severe issue regarding respiratory health. You must call the vet immediately for medical attention and check the temperature and pulse of your bunny yourself while professional assistance arrives.

Checking a rabbit’s pulse – Find the long vein in the rabbit’s ear and pinch it between your fingers for a minute. Count the number of beats and see whether it matches the healthy score of approximately 120 to 150 per minute.

Checking a rabbit’s temperature – Make the rabbit sit with its belly facing out. Take a rectal thermometer and measure the temperature by inserting it in the rabbit’s anus. An average healthy temperature of a rabbit ranges from 101 – 104ºF.

Normal Respiration Rate For A Rabbit

The regular respiration rate ranges from 30-60 times per minute with a clear nasal airway, clear eyes, and smooth functioning of other senses that would ensure breathing without excessive effort.

Easter Bunny, Easter Nest, Eggs

It is recommended that you check your bunny’s breathing rate once in a while to ensure their proper respiratory health and any underlying illnesses related to the breathing symptoms.

Always keep a check on your bunny’s body temperature, pulse, and respiration rate so that any slight complication would indicate you to consult your vet for any possible diagnosis.

Why Rabbit Is Breathing Fast And Not Eating?

Although rabbits are nasal breathers, if their nose is completely blocked and hinders the breathing process excessively, they are compelled to breathe from their mouth. Fast breathing is caused by the inability to eat anything during this process.

Their narrow mouth cannot handle the breathing and eating process simultaneously so bunnies get anorexic or lose their appetite eventually when suffering from rapid breathing issues or respiratory illness.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, rabbits do have a rapid respiratory rate as compared to other mammals and humans. Still, if the breathing pace exceeds their regular rate for various reasons, it may be a sign of uneasiness or nasal disorders.

The short duration of this nasal blockage or rapid breathing is nothing to worry about as certain fundamental factors can cause that condition temporarily. However, if the respiratory condition persists for a long duration, it may be a severe illness that would need immediate medical attention from the vet.

FAQs

How can I help my rabbit breathe?

Most of the time, your rabbit would itself get average from its rapid breathing condition. But I the situation persists for longer, you must consult your vet immediately. Also, remember to provide a proper diet, hydration, and environment for your bunny so that the breathing issue doesn’t occur in the first place.

What If my rabbit is hyperventilating?

Rabbits hyperventilate when they feel fear, anxiety, and stress in situations when strangers approach them, someone picks them up against the bunny’s wish, or if anyone makes sudden movements. In these conditions, you must try to calm your bunny at first or make them feel secure in the current environment, so they are not scared anymore.

Why is my rabbit breathing through his mouth?

Rabbits are usually nasal breathers, but they only breathe through the mouth if their nasal passage is completely blocked and they are suffering from some respiratory illness. If this condition persists for long, consult the vet immediately for treatment.

Why is my rabbit not moving but still breathing?

This condition of rapid breathing and not moving may indicate a possibility of stress and lethargy in the rabbit or maybe would be something serious and needs to be taken to the vet immediately for an accurate diagnosis.

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Gulshan
Hi, I am Gulshan, a pet blogger, and author. I've been working with the local pet groups for the past five years. I have been fascinated by our pets and am here to share that wonder with you.