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Rabbit With Watery Eye

What are the causes and treatment for a watery eye in rabbits?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: January 27, 2012, 5 a.m. EST

healthy rabbit's eyes
Rabbit Tora/Courtesy Todd & Yukako Ovick
Be alert to any abnormalities with your rabbit's eyes.

Q: My rabbit has a dripping eye. Can I do anything to help my rabbit? I cannot afford a visit to a veterinarian.

A: Rabbits can have a watery eye for many reasons, but there is little you can do to help your rabbit without knowing exactly what is wrong.

The two most common reasons for a watery eye in a rabbit are a blocked tear duct and conjunctivitis.

Rabbits have one tear duct that is located in the lower eyelid near the corner of the eye. If the duct is blocked, the normal tears produced by a rabbit cannot drain; instead these drip over the eyelid and cause the eye to look watery. One reason for the blocked duct includes an overgrowth of a tooth root obstructing the path the tear duct takes through the skull. Sometimes ducts become blocked by infection or scar tissue. A veterinarian can try to unblock the duct by flushing a solution through the duct. If there is normal flow through the duct, it is unlikely a blockage is a cause of the watery eye.

Conjunctivitis, or inflammation of the superficial tissues around the eye, is another cause of a watery eye. This can occur because of trauma to the eye, an infected tear duct or any infectious agent that lodges in the eye tissues. In most cases of conjunctivitis, a rabbit not only has a watery eye, but the eye tissue is red and swollen and the rabbit scratches around the eye.

Unfortunately, there is no way for you to make a diagnosis of the cause of the watery eye without a visit to your veterinarian. And without a diagnosis, there is no easy way to treat this health problem in your rabbit.

See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>

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Rabbit With Watery Eye

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Reader Comments
What do I do my rabbit is pregnant and has an eye infection! Will it affect her babies?
Georgia, Alexandria, LA
Posted: 8/16/2014 2:49:10 AM
My rabbit eyes are red in the corner of them when ever I clean them it really worries me should I just take him to the vet????
Baylee, Lansing, MI
Posted: 4/7/2013 6:30:35 PM
My rabbit has red eyes at the corner of them when I clean them and I am worried about him????
Baylee, Lansing, MI
Posted: 4/7/2013 6:26:09 PM
This is really helpful information! Although my rabbit doesnt have watery eyes right now, I will know what to look for if he ever does! Thanks!
Megan, Bloomington, IL
Posted: 3/1/2013 6:51:46 AM
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