Vet Jürgen Theinert explains ‘hay fever’ and other allergies in rabbits

April 14, 2023

A common question we get asked is, “Does my rabbit have hay fever?”. Our Head Vet Jürgen Theinert is here to explain hay-related and other allergies in rabbits…

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Rabbits can be susceptible to certain types of environmental and food allergens, which can cause symptoms such as red and watery eyes, sneezing, and nasal discharge. These allergens can include food (certain ingredients in pellet food may also cause reactions), cleaning products, strong odours, smoke, mites, and fleas.

Jürgen advises Essex owners that it is crucial to be aware of the early signs of an allergic reaction in your rabbit and bring them to see our team for an allergy check. Prolonged exposure to allergens can result in serious complications such as respiratory infections in rabbits like chronic rhinitis and bronchitis.

Hay fever and rabbits

Hay can also be a potential allergen, although, most likely due to the dust it may contain.

Jürgen describes some of the signs that a rabbit may be allergic to hay dust as:

  1. Sneezing or nasal discharge: If your rabbit is sneezing frequently or has a runny nose, it may be due to an allergic reaction to hay dust.
  2. Itchy or irritated eyes: Rabbits with hay dust allergies may develop red, irritated eyes or have excessive tearing.
  3. Runny stool: Hay dust allergies can also cause diarrhoea or softer-then-normal stools in rabbits.
  4. Respiratory problems: Hay dust allergies may also cause respiratory issues such as coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.
  5. Skin irritation: Rabbits may develop itchy skin, especially around their face, ears, and paws.
  6. Loss of appetite: Some rabbits may lose their appetite if they’re experiencing allergic symptoms. This is an emergency situation that requires urgent veterinary care. Call us on 01621 828381.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other factors such as respiratory infections, dental problems, or gastrointestinal issues. Jürgen advises getting your rabbit seen by one of our vets for a proper diagnosis. They can run some tests and recommend the best course of action, which may include switching to a dust-free hay or switching to hay from a different source of fibrous rabbit food.

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