Drooling in Rabbits

isolated rabbits

Overview

  • Healthy rabbits don’t drool/dribble - if you notice your rabbit drooling, it’s likely that something is wrong.
  • Often, the drooling itself isn’t obvious - keep a look out for wet fur and hair loss around their mouth and chin.
  • Contact your vet for an appointment if you notice your rabbit drooling.
  • Make an emergency appointment if your rabbit appears unwell, or has stopped eating and/or pooing.

Causes

Healthy rabbits don’t drool/dribble - if you notice your rabbit drooling, it’s likely that something is wrong. Common causes include:

  • Dental disease. Any painful problem inside the mouth can cause drooling.
  • Something toxic or bitter. Rabbits often drool if they eat something toxic or bitter.
  • Middle/inner ear infection. Ear infections can damage the nerves around the face, which can cause a one-sided droopy face, a head tilt and drooling.
  • Burns inside the mouth. Rabbits like to chew, and it’s not uncommon for them to suffer electric shock burns (inside their mouth) if they chew electrical wires. If you have indoor bunnies, you will need to ‘rabbit-proof’ your house before they can roam free.
  • Something stuck inside the mouth. If your rabbit gets something stuck inside their mouth, they are likely to drool excessively until it’s removed. It’s not easy to examine a rabbit’s mouth because it is so small, your vet will use a special instrument to check your rabbit.
  • Kidney disease. Kidney disease can lead to sores inside the mouth (due to a build-up of toxins in the blood), which cause drooling.
photo showing saliva stains on rabbit

This rabbit’s drooling has caused staining and fur loss around his mouth.

Signs to look out for

Other symptoms to look out for include:

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the drooling. Your vet will examine your rabbit and suggest the best course of action.

When to contact your vet

Don’t wait to see if they improve - always contact your vet for an appointment if you notice your rabbit drooling. Ask for an emergency appointment if your rabbit appears unwell or you think they are eating and/or pooing less than usual.

Published: August 2019

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst