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May 31, 2018

Do Rabbits Have Allergies?

My bunny LuLu sneezes a lot around hay. Can she be allergic to the hay? This happens a lot every day.
- Elizabeth G.

Hello! Just like their human counterparts, rabbits may experience allergies but in my experience, we don’t see true allergies in exotic companion mammals as often as other species like dogs. I would recommend trying a different variety of hay to see if there is any change, but remember that you need to take some time between changes to truly validate if it makes a difference. Also, we know that hays naturally vary in terms of their moisture which would, in turn, have some impact on the dust the hay naturally produces as it is handled. I have had some owners try to open the box of hay outside and fluff it up gently before moving it to a plastic storage container and back inside. I have also heard of very lightly misting the hay prior to feeding to keep the dust down if that is what we feel is truly your little one’s sensitivity. I’d also recommend looking at Oxbow’s Harvest Stacks. They’re compressed hay stacks that contain less dust. This may help your little one. Lastly, I would work with your veterinarian to complete a thorough physical examination that should likely include an in-depth oral examination and potentially nasal rads. Upper airway disease, which commonly leads to sneezing as rabbit are obligate nasal breathers, is sadly quite common and often associated with a bacterial infection. The common term for this is snuffles but it can mean a variety of things. Hopefully, some of that information helps!
- Dr. Micah Kohles