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Weepy eyes in rabbits

Photo of two rabbits on white background

Overview

  • Rabbits can develop weepy eyes for many different reasons, and it’s a symptom that is nearly always a sign of a problem (even if the discharge is clear).
  • The most common causes of weepy eyes include dental problems, tear duct disease, eye infections injuries, and irritation.
  • Book an appointment with your vet if your rabbit has weepy eyes, even if they seem ok in themselves - the sooner the problem is treated the better.

General information and causes of weepy eyes

If your rabbit has weepy eyes, or wet fur surrounding their eyes, this indicates a problem, even if the discharge is clear. Common causes of weepy eyes in rabbits include:

  • Dental disease - your rabbit’s teeth sit very close to their eyes and tear ducts, so any problems with them (especially overgrowth) are likely to affect the eyes as well.
  • Dacryocystitis (tear duct problems) - the tear ducts are tiny tubes that help drain tears from the eyes (into the nose). If one becomes blocked, inflamed or infected, tears struggle to drain and the eyes will weep.
  • Eye infections - often cause a thick, sticky discharge.
  • Respiratory infections - airway infections can cause weepy eyes. Rabbit ‘snuffles’ caused by the Pasteurella germ is a common infection.
  • Eye injuries and irritation - caused by anything from fighting with another rabbit, or a grass seed in the eye, to living in a dusty environment.
  • Eyelid and eyelash problems
Photo of a healthy rabbit eye

This rabbit has a shiny, healthy eye with no weeping.

When to contact your vet

Rabbits instinctively try to hide pain (because they are prey animals), so it’s important to contact your vet if you notice that they have weepy eyes, even if they appear ok in themselves.

Published: January 2021

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

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst