Do rabbits pant? What you need to know.

Categorized as Bunny Diet

Last Updated on May 10, 2022 by Rei Garnet

Rabbits can’t pant or sweat (except for a few sweat glands in their lips) like other animals.

Combined with their thick fur, they are susceptible to overheating or heatstroke. 

That’s why it’s important that you never house or leave your rabbit in direct sunlight, especially when it’s humid.

If you notice that your rabbit looks like it is panting, it is likely that your rabbit is just breathing fast.

Rabbits that are breathing fast can look like they are panting.

Now that you know the gist of the article, keep reading to learn whether rabbits can pant:

Is it possible for rabbits to pant?

A brown adult rabbit resting.

No, rabbits cannot pant like other animals. Animals that pant use them to regulate their body temperature, especially if it’s hot.

Rabbits, on the other hand, regulate their body temperature by twitching their noses to make breathing easier.

They also use their ears to regulate their body temperature.

Why are rabbits unable to pant?

“Rabbits are unable to breathe through their mouths” (Breathing Problems/Fast Breathing in Rabbits – PDSA, n.d.).

Rabbits are unable to pant because they primarily breathe through their noses.

Other animals, like dogs, on the other hand, can breathe both from their mouth and nose

That’s why you’ll often notice that a rabbit’s nose can twitch faster or slower.

When their nose is twitching slowly, it means that they are trying to get as much air as possible.

Rabbits frequently do them while resting after a period of intense running or exercise.

Why does my rabbit appear to be panting when they cannot pant?

Brown and white rabbit laying on the floor, resting.

If your rabbit appears to be panting, they may be trying to get as much air as possible. Check if your rabbit’s ears are hot.

Rabbits use their ears to regulate their body temperature. If they are hot, you need to cool down your rabbit as soon as possible.

Rabbits are susceptible to heatstroke and overheating due to their inability to pant and their thick fur.

To help cool down your rabbit, place a cold water bottle wrapped in a towel near your rabbit.

You can also place a fan near your rabbit to provide as much airflow as possible. A cool water should also be accessible to your rabbit at all times.

Finally, make sure that your rabbit has access to clean, drinkable water.

Rabbits that are overheating would often suffer from dehydration

Reasons why your rabbit appears to be panting or breathing rapidly.

A minilop laying on the floor resting.

1. Heatstroke.

One of the most common symptoms of heatstroke in rabbits is rapid breathing. This can be mistaken for panting.

Here are the most common signs of overheating or heatstroke in rabbits:

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  • Rapid breathing
  • Gasping for air
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bluish or grey lips
  • Exhaustion

Here are some tips for preventing and treating heatstroke in rabbits:

  • Never place your rabbit in direct sunlight.
  • Place a bottle of cold water near them on a hot weather.
  • Put ice cubes on your rabbits water.
  • Provide them with shade when they are outside.
  • Wrap your rabbit’s body with a moistened towel. Don’t wrap their ears because it helps them regulate the temperature.
  • Don’t soak your rabbits in water if you suspect heatstroke because it could provoke shock.

2. Gastrointestinal stasis (GI Stasis)

Another possible reason why your rabbit appears to be panting is if they are suffering from GI stasis.

GI stasis can progress to what’s called the “end of life stage.” This is the stage where the rabbit is shaking due to difficulty breathing.

3. Parasites

Parasites could also be the reason why your rabbit appears to be panting.

When Encephalitozoon cuniculi (E. cuniculi) spreads to the nervous system and brain, it can cause tremors or seizures.

4.Bacterial otitis media/interna

Another reason why your rabbit might appear to be panting is a condition called bacterial otitis media/interna.

“Bacterial otitis is an infection in the middle ear from the upper respiratory tract” (MSD Veterinary Manual, n.d.).

Head tilt and scratching of the ear are the main symptoms of bacterial otitis.

In severe cases, it could cause seizures and encephalitis. Seizures can look like shaking or panting.

Conclusion

Rabbits cannot pant or sweat (except for a few sweat glands in their lips).

Combined with their thick fur, they are susceptible to overheating or heatstroke.

If your rabbit appears to be panting, they are likely trying to get as much air as possible.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (May 11, 2022) Do rabbits pant? What you need to know.. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/do-rabbits-pant/.
"Do rabbits pant? What you need to know.." Bunny Horde - May 11, 2022, https://bunnyhorde.com/do-rabbits-pant/

Sources

  • Breathing problems/fast breathing in rabbits – PDSA. (n.d.). www.pdsa.org.uk. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/pet-health-hub/symptoms/breathing-problemsfast-breathing-in-rabbits
  • MSD Veterinary Manual. (n.d.). www.msdvetmanual.com. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://www.msdvetmanual.com/en-au/ear-disorders/otitis-media-and-interna

Image credit – Lucki19 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Rei Garnet

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.