Understanding Sinus Infections In Rabbits

Sinusitis is characterised by inflammation of the air-filled pockets in your rabbit's nasal cavity. This respiratory condition can be acute or chronic and is commonly caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, allergies or trauma to the nose. Sinusitis caused by bacteria or fungus is contagious, and the affected rabbit should be kept separate from other rabbits. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for sinusitis in rabbits:


Symptoms of sinusitis in rabbits include the following:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Excessive salivation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sneezing
  • Nosebleeds


Your vet will diagnose sinusitis by taking blood samples to check your rabbit's inflammatory markers, which are an indicator of the presence of infection or an underlying allergy, and collecting a sample of nasal discharge on a swab. The swab can be used to identify specific strains of bacteria or fungus, which will allow your vet to create an effective treatment plan. Diagnostic imaging, such as an MRI or X-ray, can also be used if trauma is the suspected cause.

Treatment Approach

Once the cause of your rabbit's sinusitis has been established, your vet will recommend a course of treatment with the goal of reducing nasal inflammation. Treatment may include the following:

  • Nasal Cleansing - Your vet will show you how to wash your rabbit's nasal passages, which can help prevent a secondary, opportunistic infection developing and remove environmental irritants.
  • Oxygen Therapy - If your rabbit is having trouble breathing due to their nasal passages being blocked, which is often the case with rabbits who display excessive salivation, they may require oxygen until the inflammation is under control.
  • Medication - A targeted antibiotic or antifungal will be prescribed based on the results of the swab analysis. Some infections are difficult to eradicate, and long-term drug therapy may be required to keep your rabbit's symptoms under control.
  • Diet Or Environmental Modifications - If a food or environmental allergy, such as certain types of hay or cleaning products, is causing sinusitis in your rabbit, you will have to remove the irritant permanently. Once eliminated, your rabbit's symptoms will quickly subside.

Your vet may recommend a follow-up appointment to confirm your rabbit's treatment has been successful. They can also provide advice on how to ensure your rabbit has a nutrient-dense diet during and after treatment to help their body recover from the impact of illness.

If your rabbit has any of the symptoms listed above, or if you have any concerns about their respiratory health, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.