Can Rabbits Get a Cold? [What Causes Cold-Like Symptoms?]

HomeHealthCan Rabbits Get a Cold?

While rabbits cannot get colds, they can suffer from several illnesses and infections that have similar symptoms to colds. These include an upper respiratory infection (snuffles), allergies, bordetella, and pneumonia. The cold-like symptoms will last anywhere between 3-14 days.

Rabbit owners often wonder if their pets can catch a cold. After all, rabbits are susceptible to several other health problems. The good news is that rabbits cannot catch a cold (at least not the cold as we know it).

However, they can have cold-like symptoms from other infections. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what can cause these cold-like symptoms and what you can do to keep your rabbit healthy and happy.

Rabbits Can Get Sick With Cold-Like Symptoms

A human cold is a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract. A human cold is very contagious from person to person, but this virus cannot affect rabbits.

However, many viruses CAN affect the upper respiratory tract of a rabbit. This will lead to similar cold-like symptoms in your rabbit, including a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and lethargy.

Rabbits Can’t Get a Cold From a Human

The good news is that you don’t have to avoid your rabbit if you have a cold. This is because the human cold virus cannot affect rabbits. However, when you have a cold and pet your rabbit, another person who pets the rabbits after you might catch your cold.

What Causes Rabbits to Have Cold-Like Symptoms?

Several viruses and infections can cause cold-like symptoms in rabbits. These include:

Upper Respiratory Infection (AKA Snuffles)

Also known as snuffles, an upper respiratory infection is caused by bacteria or a virus. It is the most common respiratory illness in rabbits and can be very serious if left untreated.

The symptoms of snuffles include a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and a wet-sounding cough. If your rabbit has any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet immediately.


Rabbits can also suffer from allergies, which can cause cold-like symptoms. Allergies can be caused by anything from dust to pollen to cleaning products. If your rabbit is sneezing, has a runny nose, or has watery eyes, it may be allergic to something in its environment.


Bordetella is a bacteria that affects the respiratory system and can cause severe respiratory illness in rabbits. It is often spread through contact with other rabbits or contaminated surfaces.


Pneumonia is a serious lung infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. It can be very dangerous for rabbits and must be treated by a veterinarian immediately.

What Are The Similar Symptoms to a Human Cold?

There are several symptoms that are similar to a human cold, including:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Lethargy

If your rabbit has any of these symptoms, it may be suffering from some type of upper respiratory infection.

How Long Does a “Rabbit Cold” Last?

The duration of illness will depend on the infection. Most upper respiratory infections will last anywhere from 3-14 days. However, if the infection is left untreated, it could become more serious and last longer.

What to Do If Your Rabbit Has Cold-Like Symptoms?

If your rabbit has any cold-like symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet immediately. They will be able to diagnose the problem and provide treatment.

In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help your rabbit feel better. These include:

Make Sure They Stay Properly Hydrated

Although most rabbits will continue to drink water when sick, some may not. It’s crucial to ensure they stay properly hydrated by offering fresh water frequently. You can also offer them plain, unsweetened Pedialyte to help replenish electrolytes.

Provide Plenty of Fresh Food

Sick rabbits may not have much of an appetite, but it’s important to make sure they are getting enough to eat. Offer them fresh vegetables and hay, as well as their regular diet.

Let Them Get Plenty of Rest

Sick rabbits will often want to sleep more than usual. This is normal and nothing to be worried about. Make sure they have a quiet place to rest and sleep undisturbed.

How to Reduce The Chances of Future Infections.

Although you can’t prevent future infections, there are some things you can do to help reduce the chances of your rabbit getting sick in the future. These include:

Provide a High-Quality Diet

A healthy diet is important for all rabbits, but it’s especially important for rabbits prone to respiratory infections. Make sure they get plenty of hay, fresh vegetables, and high-quality pellet food.

Maintain a Clean Environment

Rabbits are very sensitive to their environment. It’s important to keep their cage clean and free of dust, dirt, and other debris.

Infections Are Bound to Happen

No matter how hard you try, there’s always a chance your rabbit will get sick. This is just a fact of life. The important thing is to be prepared and know what to do if it happens.

If your rabbit gets sick, the most important thing you can do is take them to the vet immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial for a quick recovery.

Bryan Moore
Bryan Moore
I am Bryan, owner of I love all animals but find myself especially drawn to rabbits. I have been very lucky to be able to turn my passion into my profession, and I am grateful every day that I get to do what I love. It is my hope that through this website, I can help others learn more about these wonderful creatures and provide them with all the information they need to care for their own rabbit. View my Full Author Page Here

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