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Eye Problems in Rabbits

Your rabbit seems generally okay, but today she appears to have been crying. There may be thin white strings of mucus coming out of her eyes, and one or both of her cheeks are wet. Runny eyes are a signal that your rabbit needs to visit the vet.
Even though they eat lots of carrots, eye problems in rabbits are common. A variety of conditions can produce epiphora, or watery eyes.

Bacterial Infection

A rabbit’s runny eyes need to be diagnosed by a veterinarian because bacterial infection is one of the most potentially dangerous causes. For rabbits with eye discharge, veterinarians usually "assumes the worst" and treats for infection by prescribing the antibiotic Baytril for 7-10 days to start. "If it is an bacterial infection [ bacteria as Pasteurella, Bordetella, or Staphylococcus] you don't want to take any chances because it can quickly spread to the jaw or the respiratory tract." To be most effective, treatment needs to begin immediately

Runny eye in a rabbit

Physical Abnormality

The eyes may water due to an obstruction, such as inflammatory debris, in the nasolacrimal, or tear-duct. This duct is a passage for tears between the eye and the nose. If blocked, the drainage of tears is reduced so that they overflow onto the cheek. The veterinarian may flush the duct to remove the debris.

A bony obstruction or misshapen eyelid can also effect where the tears go. Rabbit’s can have a congenital condition called entropion, where the eyelid folds under and can rub the eye, causing painful corneal ulcerations. Surgery can correct this problem.

Dry Eyes & Trauma

Without enough tears staying on the eye's surface to keep it moist, the cornea is subject to scratches and erosions. Symptoms of corneal ulcerations, which also occur from external trauma in normal eyes, include eye discharge, redness, and inflammation. Rabbits may squint and be head shy. Treatment is usually antibiotic drops.

Rabbits can get watery eyes from being allergic to the dust on hay and dry food. Wood shaving should not be used for litter because they put off volatile odors and bits of wood can get into bunny's eyes; shredded paper or dust-free cat litter are better.

When runny eyes become chronic, a constantly wet cheek can become chafed or inflamed. The easiest way to remove the excess moisture-and the most pleasurable way for a rabbit-is to let another rabbit do it.
If a rabbit's face is sore, she may not let you dry her tears. If necessary, you can "hypnotize" her by cradling her in your arms on her back, tipping her head backwards until she's "out." Use a clean tissue to absorb the wetness. Warm wet compresses will help with swelling and crustiness. Ophthalmic saline solution carefully poured on the cheek will loosen mucus and, as it dries, crystallize the tears so the dried material can be combed out with a clean flea comb.

Sometimes the fur under the cheek may even peel off from constant tearing. For lesions on the cheek, a touch of perscription topical anesthetic powder can be applied to absorb moisture, keeping the powder away from the eye.

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