Bunny Breathing Fast: Causes, Treatment, and When to Worry

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Written By Zoey Seaforth

Committed to nurturing small pets with passion and purpose.

Suddenly noticed your bunny breathing fast? Don’t worry! While quick breathing can be a sign of illness, it can also be a normal response to stress or anxiety.

In this article, we’ll explore the causes of rapid breathing in rabbits, the best ways to manage it, and when to seek veterinary advice.

We’ll also discuss why prompt medical attention is important for a successful outcome.

Normal Breathing Rate and Characteristics of Rabbits

A healthy rabbit’s normal breathing rate is 30-60 breaths per minute at rest, twice as many breaths as humans take. So even if it seems like your bunny is breathing fast, it might not be out of character.

This rapid breathing might make their bodies shake or shiver, especially in smaller breeds like Netherland Dwarfs.

Inhales and exhales cause the chest to rise and fall noticeably and quickly. Basically, this is a completely normal respiratory rate, just like humans, as their bodies need air to survive.

However, certain factors can cause a bunny to breathe fast that may not be as normal.

Anxiety or stress can cause rapid breathing and illnesses such as respiratory infections or heart problems. Meanwhile, pain or discomfort, from dental issues or injuries, can also lead to an increased breathing rate.

Finally, overheating or exposure to high temperatures can also cause rabbits to breathe faster, while certain medications or toxins can affect a rabbit’s breathing.

Causes of a Bunny Breathing Fast

If your bunny breathing fast is worrying you, it is important to look further into it incase it’s caused by anxiety, illness, pain, overheating, or certain medications.

Fear and stress can often cause rabbits to breathe rapidly, especially when they are in a new or uncomfortable situation, while illnesses such as respiratory infections or heart problems can also increase their breathing rate.

If a rabbit is in pain or discomfort, such as from an injury or dental issue, it may also affect its breathing patterns, while overheating or exposure to high temperatures can also play a part.

Finally, certain medications or toxins can also lead to fast breathing in rabbits.

Anxiety/StressRapid breathing, shiveringReduce stress, provide reassurance
IllnessLabored breathing, wheezingVet visit, medication, supportive care
Pain/DiscomfortRapid breathingAddress injury/dental issue, vet visit
OverheatingRapid breathingMove to cooler environment, mist ears
Medication/ToxinsRapid breathingVet visit, stop medication/remove toxin

When a Bunny Breathing Fast Means Illness or Discomfort

To identify whether your rabbit’s fast breathing could be a sign of an underlying medical condition, look for other signs of illness or discomfort.

For instance, if your rabbit is wheezing or laboring to breathe, they may have a respiratory illness. They may have an injury or dental issue if they are in pain or appear uncomfortable.


If your rabbit exhibits any of these symptoms, it is important to seek prompt medical attention.

A bunny breathing fast can also be caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to high temperatures. If your bunny is breathing fast due to heat, move them to a cooler area. Misting their ears with water can help keep them cool, but it’s important to make sure the water does not enter their ears.

If your bunny breathing fast does not return to normal within 5-10 minutes, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian. A vet can assess your rabbit’s overall health and check for any underlying conditions.

Managing a Bunny Breathing Fast Due to Heat

Move your rabbit to a cooler area to help manage fast breathing due to heat. Hot temperatures and exercise can trigger a rabbit’s fast breathing response, so you’ll need to try and return it to normal.

But there are other steps you can take to slow a rabbit’s breathing rate.

Move to a cooler areaQuickly decreases temperatureMay not be practical in all situations
Use a fanProvides cooling air circulationMay not be practical in all situations
Wet the ears with cool waterProvides immediate cooling effectWater should not enter the ears
Exercise in the morning or eveningReduces heat exposureMay not be practical in all situations

In addition to these suggestions, you can monitor your rabbit’s temperature and breathing rate to determine if they are getting too hot.

A rabbit’s normal body temperature should be between 101-103°F (38.3-39.4°C). If the temperature rises above 103°F, watch for signs of fast breathing. If they breathe at their normal rate or slower, the temperature should be safe.

If your bunny is breathing fast still, provide them with a cool, shaded space and avoid strenuous exercise. You can also mist their ears with cool water to help reduce their core body temperature.

Always consult with your veterinarian to ensure your rabbit is healthy and safe.

When to Seek Veterinary Advice and Importance of Prompt Medical Attention

It is important to seek veterinary advice if a rabbit’s breathing rate remains fast for more than 5-10 minutes. Delayed treatment can worsen the condition and lead to potential complications, so it is important to take prompt action.

Here are some things to look out for when your bunny is breathing fast:

  1. Unusual positions or behaviors such as aggressive posturing or pacing.
  2. Pain or discomfort, such as from dental issues or injuries.
  3. Unusually fast breathing for extended periods of time.

If any of these signs are observed, it is important to seek veterinary advice. A veterinarian can assess the rabbit’s overall health and perform necessary diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or blood work, to determine the cause of fast breathing.

Treatment options may include medication, supportive care, or addressing environmental factors. Following the veterinarian’s advice and monitoring the rabbit’s progress is essential for successful management.

Key Takeaways

Your bunny’s health is important, so it’s important to pay attention to their breathing. If your bunny’s breathing is rapid for more than 5-10 minutes, it’s time to seek veterinary advice.

Remember, fast breathing can be a sign of illness or discomfort, so don’t wait. Have you noticed any other signs that your bunny isn’t feeling their best? If so, take them to the vet right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Tell if My Rabbit Is Breathing Too Fast?

If your rabbit’s breathing rate is more than 60 breaths per minute, it could be a sign of pain or illness.
Monitor their breathing and seek veterinary advice if it persists for more than 5-10 minutes. Don’t wait – fast breathing can worsen and delay in treatment could lead to complications.

How Can I Reduce My Rabbit’s Stress Levels?

Reducing stress for your rabbit can be done by providing a calm environment, avoiding sudden noises or movements, and giving them plenty of space. Offer treats, pet them gently, and give them time to exercise in a secure area. Monitor their behavior and consult your vet if any changes occur.

What Is the Best Way to Cool Down My Rabbit on Hot Days?

To help cool your rabbit on hot days, provide them with shade and a cool environment. Mist their ears with water and monitor their breathing rate. If it remains fast for more than 5-10 minutes, contact a vet for further advice.

How Often Should I Take My Rabbit to the Vet for a Check-Up?

You should take your rabbit for a check-up every 6-12 months to make sure they get the best level of care. Make sure to mention any changes in breathing or behavior you’ve noticed. Regular visits to the vet can help identify potential illnesses early, and keep your rabbit happy and healthy. Don’t wait to seek help if you suspect something is wrong.

Are There Any Symptoms I Should Look Out for That Could Indicate My Rabbit Is Ill?

Look out for signs such as labored breathing, wheezing, or a rapid breathing rate that lasts for more than 5-10 minutes. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult your veterinarian right away.