Why Is My Rabbit Breathing Fast and Lying Down

Why Is My Rabbit Breathing Fast and Lying Down

A rabbit breathes faster than you do, so it’s no surprise that you’d be concerned when your bun breathes fast and lays down. Is this something to worry about, or it is just normal behavior after your bunny binkies and zoomies?

Why do rabbits breathe fast and lay down? 

Rabbits can lie down and breathe fast because they’ve just exercised or binkied or zoomied around the room or garden. They can also exhibit this behavior when they are stressed, anxious, or scared. Other more concerning reasons for fast breathing and lying down are illness and being hot. 

The reasons for your bun breathing fast and lying fall in the “not to be concerned about” and “yes, do be concerned and do something ASAP” categories.

Learn more so you can take your pet rabbit to the vet when necessary before it’s too late.

Reasons Why Your Rabbit Breathes Fast and Lies Down

Reasons Why Your Rabbit Breathes Fast and Lies Down

There are various reasons why your rabbit could be breathing fast and lying down. Some of these are serious and need medical attention, and some of these are normal.


You probably breathe fast and feel like you want to flop on the ground if you’ve exerted yourself. Right? It’s the same for rabbits.

If your bun has exercised, zoomed about, binkied, ran, or done some other form of exercise, they may be panting (breathing fast) and lying down. It’ll be a few minutes until your rabbit’s breathing rate returns to normal.

To worry or not? If your rabbit has a higher breathing rate than normal after exercising, you don’t need to worry. Ensure your bun has cool, fresh water so it can hydrate when ready.

Anxiety, Stress, or Fear

When you feel stressed or scared, you may also breathe faster than normal. So when your pet rabbit feels anxious, stressed, or afraid, its breathing rate increases.

Your rabbit is also a prey animal, so anything can easily stress them out and make them scared. In the wild, there are many predators that prey on rabbits, so rabbits need to be careful.

So if your rabbit is stressed, anxious, or scared, they’ll be breathing fast and laying down, but not sprawled down. Instead, the rabbit will try to make itself as small as possible in a corner or hide spot.

To worry or not? You should try to understand what is causing the fear, stress, or anxiety, and try to eliminate that. Try to make your rabbit feel safe.

If you need to, softly and slowly approach your rabbit, or let them come to you for reassurance.  

Hot Summer or Heatwave

Another reason why your rabbit could be breathing fast and laying down is that they feel hot. Breathing helps regulate your bun’s temperature.

To worry or not? Yes and no. You don’t want your fluffy bun to overheat since it can dehydrate and die. Ensure your bun has lots of drinking water, isn’t laying down in the sun, and can cool down.

If your bun is dehydrated, you need to take them to the vet ASAP.


Your rabbit can also have an increased breathing rate because it isn’t well.

There are various illnesses your bun could be suffering from respiratory illness, gastrointestinal stasis, or pain.

To worry or not? If your rabbit is sick, they’ll try to hide this because that’s what they do in the wild to survive. So you’ll need to look carefully, and when you know or suspect your bunny is sick, you need to call the vet. 

How to Check Your Rabbit’s Breathing Rate

If you are not sure whether it’s a medical emergency when your rabbit is laying down and breathing fast, you can check its breathing rate and take its temperature.

You need to know what a healthy rabbit’s breath rate is: one to two breaths per second at rest. That’s about 30 to 60 breaths per minute. In comparison, a person only breathes 12 to 16 times in a minute.  

So if your rabbit is really breathing fast, its heart rate will be faster. You’ll need a timer or stopwatch to keep track of the time while you count their breaths.  

Are you worried about your rabbit being sick and having a fever? Take their internal body temperature.

You’ll need a rectal thermometer. If your bun is healthy, its temperature will be between 101°F and 104°F. Anything above 104°F is cause for concern.

See if there are any other symptoms that accompany the laying down and panting.

If they have a viral infection, you’ll note incoordination, weakness, etc.

When Should You Be Concerned?

There is an easy way to know if you should be concerned when your rabbit is breathing fast and lying down.

The first thing you should do is keep an eye on your bun. See if their breathing naturally slows in 5 to 10 minutes. If it does, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

When the panting doesn’t slow down, you should be concerned.

When to Seek Medical Help?

Seek medical help for your rabbit when:

  • The fast breathing doesn’t subside after 5 to 10 minutes
  • Other symptoms are present

When your bunny is sick, other symptoms may include:

  • Unsteadiness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • No bowel movement or diarrhea
  • Laying down in an unusual position
  • Wheezing
  • A snotty nose
  • Drooling
  • Unusually quiet or aggressiveness

Your bun may also be oxygen deprived; in this case, their tongue or lips may be blue. They may try to tilt their head awkwardly and upward to try and get in more oxygen, and you’ll know your bunny is struggling to breathe.

If your rabbit grasps when you pick them up, it could be a sign of internal injuries.

Other medical reasons your bun could be breathing quickly and lying down are heart disease, ear mites, a parasite infestation, flystrike, and poisoning.

If it’s a medical emergency, get your rabbit to the vet as soon as possible. If not treated in a timely manner, your bun may not make it.

My Last Bunny Thoughts

As a responsible rabbit owner, you want to ensure you take good care of your bun. That means knowing as much about rabbits as you can so you know when to panic and take action and when to chill and snap funny pics of Ms. Fluffles.

Fast breathing can just be a sign of stress, fear, or exertion, but it can also be much more serious. When in doubt, call your local vet or take your rabbit for an examination.

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