Bunnies are very fun pets to have around. They are carefree and playful. However, bunnies are also very good at hiding their illnesses. Watching their droppings is one important way that you can monitor a rabbit’s health. But thankfully, for eye problems, you don’t need to get up close and personal with a bunny’s poop. Instead, just pay attention to their eyes and watch for the symptoms we’ll describe in this article.
Note: If you have any questions or concerns about your bunny’s eyes, it is important to discuss these with your vet as soon as you can. Make sure that you’ve chosen a vet that is experienced with rabbits, as their digestive issues have earned them the label of an exotic animal. You may not think that bunnies are very exotic; however, it is very important to find a vet that specializes in rabbit care to ensure your bunny stays as happy and as healthy as possible.
Why do bunnies get eye problems?
Rabbit’s eyes are located on the side of their head, which creates both a blind spot immediately in front of them and an opportunity for their precious eyes to get injured. Bunny eyes are also quite large in relation to the rest of their head. Therefore, eye problems and foreign bodies in rabbits’ eyes are more common than you may think.
Common bunny eye problems and how to treat them
Because bunnies are prone to eye issues, it is important to keep an eye out for any issues. A small scratch or piece of dirt in the eye can lead to much larger problems done the line. Here we’ve listed the five most common eye problems in rabbits and how to treat them:
1) Tear ducts
By far, tear duct problems are cited by vets as the most common eye problem in rabbits. Often the tear ducts become watery or inflamed. They may have a discharge as well. Flemish Giant Rabbit explain that this problem is actually caused by your bunny’s teeth. The tear duct runs just above a rabbit’s teeth. If the teeth are too long, the pressure on the tear ducts can cause pressure and consequent problems. The treatment for this issue is to have your vet flush the tear ducts with a saline solution.
2) Foreign substances
Due to the placement of a bunny’s eyes, they are prone to having foreign substances enter them. A foreign substance is anything in your bunny’s eye that is not supposed to be there – think sticks, bedding, food, and other little irritants. These sorts of foreign substances can cause inflammation, scratches, and infections. The best treatment is to remove the foreign substance as gently as possible without scratching the eye. If you don’t think you can do this safely, it’s a good idea to take a trip to the vet.
Conjunctivitis is also called “pink eye.” Just as in humans, “pink eye” causes the bunny’s eye to turn pink or red. There are actually many reasons for conjunctivitis in your rabbit. Infections caused by Pasteurella multocida, Staphylococcus, and Treponema cuniculi are all common culprits. Some of these infections may be transferable to humans, and some can even cause your rabbit to lose their eye if not treated. So, if you suspect your bunny has a case on conjunctivitis, get him or her to the vet as soon as you can. Antibiotics and other treatment options will likely be prescribed to treat the disease.
Ulcers in your bunny’s eyes are often caused by a foreign substance in the eye. When the white part of the eye, the cornea, gets damaged, an ulcer may form. Ulcers are very painful for your floppy eared friend. They will likely struggle to open the eye or scratch at it a lot. If you notice these symptoms, take your rabbit to the vet immediately. The vet can test and prescribe medications for the ulcers. You will need to closely monitor the ulcer for several weeks to ensure it heals correctly.
Just like humans, rabbits can develop cataracts as they age. There are many causes of cataracts in bunnies. These include diet, genetics, infection, or even trauma to the eye. The most common infection that causes cataracts is E. cuniculi, a parasite. Cataracts will cause your bunny’s eye to turn unnaturally white. They may be small or large. Your vet will likely recommend surgery to remove the cataract.
Rabbits give us so much love and enjoyment; it is only fair that we make their health a priority. By providing your bunny with the right diet and a clean environment, you are on your way towards keeping their eyes healthy.
People say that the eyes are the window to the soul. Let this be true for your rabbit by keeping their eyes clean and clear. Remember, if your bunny does show signs of an eye problem, it is important to take them to their vet right away. Addressing the problem quickly will mean that you will have your happy-go-lucky, healthy bunny back in no time.