Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pet Talk

April 16, 2012

Pet Talk: A case of the snuffles

- — By Pet Talk staff

CNHI News Service

If your Peter Rabbit has a runny nose, he may have more than a case of the sniffles. He could have "snuffles," a common upper respiratory infection in rabbits.

"Snuffles is a disease which affects the eyes and nose and sometimes the lungs, skin, or even the middle ear of rabbits,” says Dr. Jill Heatley, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).

Heatley adds, "Snuffles is a very common disease of rabbits and can be found in up to 10 percent of rabbits which appear normal. It is found in almost all rabbits that show clinical signs, such as a runny nose, skin infections, or a head tilt.

Symptoms for snuffles vary among rabbits. According to Heatley, the most common signs to look for relating to snuffles are nasal discharge, head tilting, and skin sores.

"Many times a veterinarian will make a presumptive diagnosis of snuffles based solely on a physical examination,” explains Heatley.

“The treatment plan for snuffles varies based on the clinical signs, but antibiotics are often prescribed because it is a bacterial disease,” Heatley says.

Heatley also recommends using probiotics in rabbits, because they help replace the good normal bacteria in the rabbit’s gut which it needs to live.

If you are looking into purchasing a new rabbit for your household, it is best to talk with your breeder or pet store representative about a particular animal's health history and breeding conditions.

Sub-clinical snuffles (infected rabbits that show no symptoms) can be diagnosed through a physical examination administered by your veterinarian. Physical examinations should be a routine part of your pre-purchase or initial 'well pet' health exam.

To try to avoid snuffles in your current pet, keep its environment stress free.

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