What to Do for Rabbit Eye Infections

side shot of 2 white rabbits nose to nose

Your bun’s large, soulful eyes not only add to his cuteness quotient, but they also serve as windows to his health. So if you see anything odd about your bun’s peepers, it warrants a closer look because he may be suffering from some medical issues. An eye infection, which can afflict all rabbits, is one of them. That’s why bun parents like you, need to know what to do for rabbit eye infections, especially since they can cause significant discomfort to your pet and, in extreme cases, even lead to blindness.   

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Why Does Your Rabbit Get Eye Infections?   

Eye infections, also known as conjunctivitis, are usually caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. They also occur when a foreign object gets into your bun’s peeper, and it won’t come out, which irritates the eye, causing inflammation and redness. The irritant can come in the form of hay, pieces of bedding material, even bun poop. Ingrown eyelashes are still another cause of eye infections. 

Eye infections can happen to all rabbits – both big breed rabbits and small size rabbits. 

In some instances, however, the problem develops due to underlying health conditions like the following:  

  • Dacryocystitis or inflammation of the tear ducts  
  • Eye ulcers  
  • Dental diseases  
  • Myxomatosis (a dangerous illness in rabbits)  
  • Allergies  

Sometimes, the infection is idiopathic, meaning that there’s no apparent reason behind the condition.  

Signs That Your Rabbit Has an Eye Infection   

The symptoms of eye infections vary depending on the cause, but the most common ones are:   

  • Eye discharge, which may be either mucus or water  
  • Crusting or matted fur around the eye   
  • Frequent blinking or squinting  
  • Pawing or rubbing of the eye  
  • Difficulty eating  
  • Lethargy  

How Do You Treat Rabbit Eye Infections?   

close up of a brown bunny in a vet's arms

We recommend taking your bun to the vet when you see signs of eye infections. But even before your trip to the doctor, make sure you clean the eye thoroughly, removing the discharge and matting it created. Doing so will help prevent the condition from getting worse.  

At the pet clinic, your vet will examine your rabbit to determine the cause of the infection. The treatment protocol will depend on what’s behind the condition.  

For bacterial infections, a prescription for antibiotics is par for the course. The vet may also advise you to wash the eye with saline solution to keep it clean and apply medicated cream to soothe it. Be sure to finish the full dose of antibiotics even if your pet’s symptoms improve and don’t give antibiotics, or other medications for that matter, without consulting your vet. Some medicines for humans are toxic to rabbits.  

If infected teeth or roots are behind the problem, surgery to remove the infected teeth or roots may be the solution.  

For eye infections that don’t have a discernible cause, the doctor may suggest changing your pet’s hay to prevent the hay dust from irritating his eyes. Some vets will try hydrocortisone treatments to see if that will improve the condition.  

Are There Home Remedies for Rabbit Eye Infections?   

We don’t recommend treating the infection yourself as eye infections usually need a course of antibiotics. However, if you can’t get to the pet clinic immediately, you can provide some relief for your bun until you can take him to the doctor. Using some simple remedies will sometimes do the trick.

  • Turmeric and boiled water: Turmeric can help ease the pain and inflammation. It is also safe for rabbits if taken in small amounts, so you don’t have to worry if your pet ingests some while he grooms himself. Boil the water and add the turmeric, then clean the infected eye with the solution after it cools down.   
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is excellent for soothing the eyes and the skin around it. Some claim it is a natural eye infection remedy because of its antimicrobial and antiviral properties. That can at least prevent the infection from getting worse while you’re waiting to take your pet to the doctor. Apply the oil around the eye and gently massage the surrounding area. Do this 2-3 times a day until the vet can see your bun. Note: Make sure to use one that is safe for animals, like this one
  • Aloe vera: The antiseptic and antimicrobial agents in the aloe vera plant can help reduce the irritation and inflammation caused by the eye infection. But use only a small amount because it tends to have a laxative effect on rabbits if ingested.  

How Long Before Your Rabbit’s Eye Infection Gets Better?   

Don’t expect your pet’s condition to improve overnight. It usually happens gradually, over a few days after taking the medication prescribed by the vet. If you don’t see any positive changes, inform your pet’s doctor as the infection may require a different prescription.  

Under normal circumstances, the eye infection should get better in a few days up to a couple of weeks, depending on the severity of the condition.  

front shot of a brown bunny stepping in food

How Can Dental Problems Cause Eye Infections in Rabbits?   

Infected teeth or roots can cause eye infections because the roots of the teeth grow close to the eyes. When they swell, or the teeth grow too long, they can press on the tear ducts. This blocks the narrow ducts, which can lead to eye infections.  

Can Rabbit Eye Infections Cause Blindness?   

Yes, leaving your bun’s eye infection untreated can make him go blind. That’s because the ailment may cause scarring on the eye, damaging the pupil and cornea and leading to blindness. The condition is usually irreversible. That’s why you should treat your pet’s eye infection quickly to prevent this unfortunate effect.  

Can Eye Infections Cause Death in Rabbits?   

On their own, eye infections aren’t usually fatal. However, if the problem develops as an offshoot of other medical issues, it can lead to death. For example, an infection from another part of your bun’s body that had reached the eyes can kill him because that can mean it had spread out. 

Eye infections arising from dental problems can also be fatal if the pain stops your bun from eating.  

Infections of the eyes sometimes heal on their own. However, because they cause a great deal of discomfort to your fur baby and affect his overall health, ignoring them can lead to serious consequences. So when you see signs of rabbit eyes infections, the best thing to do is to consult your vet as soon as possible.   

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, will you give it a share or two 🙂 Thank you! ~from Every Bunny Welcome

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