Your rabbit’s eyes are gateways to its health. While innocuous eye boogers are normal for bunnies, certain types of discharge can spell trouble. Excess goop, colored gunk, and watery weepiness are red alerts. Something more sinister than sleep sand lurks within! Don’t let the Boogie Monster of infection blear your bunny’s bright peepers. With vigilant attention and prompt vet care, your rabbit can vanquish villainous viruses, banish harmful bacteria, and stomp out nasty irritants. Keep that sparkle in your rabbit’s eye and spring in its hop with the power of eye-saving knowledge. Learn the difference between normal and abnormal eye goo to keep your bunny’s outlook rosy.
How frequently should you see eye boogers on your rabbit?
It's normal for rabbits to have some eye boogers from time to time. These are dried mucus secretions that can accumulate in the corners of a rabbit's eyes, especially while they sleep. Small amounts of creamy or light yellow discharge are not a concern. You may see small boogers in the morning that clear up throughout the day as the rabbit grooms itself. Frequent and excessive eye boogers or very thick and discolored discharge could indicate an issue that needs veterinary attention. In general, boogers that persist throughout the day or reappear quickly after grooming warrant a closer look.
Are boogers floating on a rabbit’s eye normal?
Seeing small boogers floating on the surface of a rabbit's eye is fairly normal. These are usually naturally occurring mucus and oil secretions. You may notice them especially first thing in the morning before the rabbit has groomed. They may look like tiny bubbles or strings on the eye's surface. These should clear up as the rabbit grooms throughout the day. Persistent floating debris or large globs are not normal and could signal an infection or inflammation. If the boogers recur quickly after grooming or impair vision, veterinary attention is advisable.
What to expect if your rabbit has a partner?
It's common for rabbits kept in pairs to help groom eye boogers off each other. You may notice your rabbits gently licking each other's faces and eyes. This is a natural social behavior that also serves a hygienic purpose. Bonded rabbits spend a good amount of time mutual grooming daily. So you can expect less eye boogers if you have a pair, since they are able to remove the secretions for each other. This is another benefit of housing rabbits in compatible spayed/neutered pairs. That said, both rabbits should have normal minimal eye discharge and no signs of infection.
Is it okay to pick the eye boogers off your rabbit?
It's best not to pick eye boogers off your rabbit. The eyes are very delicate, and you could inadvertently scratch the surface. Rabbits also dislike having their eyes touched. For small amounts of normal discharge, it's better to let the rabbit groom itself. The exception is if boogers are excessive or you see signs of infection. In that case, gentle wiping with water or saline and a soft cloth may be necessary before seeing a vet. But routine eye picking can irritate the eyes. You can provide a damp cloth for the rabbit to wipe its face on its own.
What is abnormal eye discharge in rabbits?
There are certain types of eye discharge that are not normal and require veterinary attention. Any eye drainage that is thick and opaque rather than clear and watery is a red flag. Colored discharge – yellow, green, or reddish – often signals infection or inflammation. A rabbit with weepy eyes producing lots of tears can indicate blocked tear ducts. Runny eyes that leave wet fur under the eyes is also not normal. If the rabbit keeps its eyes closed for long periods, that can indicate pain, irritation or infection. Any eye issue that doesn't resolve within a day warrants medical care.
What causes common eye problems in rabbits?
Some common causes of abnormal eye discharge and infection in rabbits include:
- Conjunctivitis – infection of the mucous membrane around the eye
- Dental issues – tooth roots can extend to tear ducts and sinus cavities
- Foreign objects – hay seeds, dust, dirt can get trapped under eyelids
- Injury – scratches to the eye surface from toys, rough housing, etc.
- Blocked tear ducts – overproduction of tears with no drainage
- Glaucoma – increased eye pressure causing pain and blindness
- Uveitis – inflammation of interior eye structures like the iris
- Catarrhal conditions – sinus infections spreading to eyes
Poor sanitation or irritants in the environment can also contribute to eye issues in rabbits. But often the underlying cause needs diagnosis by a rabbit-savvy vet.
Should you wash your rabbit’s eyes at home?
It's generally best not to wash a rabbit's eyes at home. Using the wrong products could worsen irritation. And excess moisture can allow fungal or bacterial overgrowth. It's better to gently wipe crusty eyes with a warm, damp cloth. Sterile saline solution is safest if rinsing is needed before seeing a vet. Avoid homemade saltwater which has incorrect concentrations. Never use human eye drops, essential oils or other products not approved for rabbit eyes. Doing so risks damaging the eyes and compromising medical treatment later. It’s always safest to have abnormal eye discharge assessed by an experienced rabbit vet.
Can you use eye drops on rabbits?
Over-the-counter eye drops and ointments meant for humans or other pets should never be used on rabbit eyes. However, rabbit-safe eye medications prescribed by a vet are often necessary to treat infections and inflammation. Common rabbit eye drops include antibiotic drops to control bacterial infection and anti-inflammatory drops to reduce swelling, redness and discomfort. Any medication needs proper dosage for the rabbit’s weight and condition. Follow vet instructions exactly on how to administer drops and for how long. Check that all medication kept in contact with the eyes. Letting your vet handle eye treatments ensures proper care.
When to see a veterinary professional
It's a good idea to have a rabbit-experienced vet examine any abnormal eye discharge that persists more than 24 hours. Any colored discharge, thick mucus, watery eyes or matter coating the eye warrants prompt veterinary care. Eye issues can escalate quickly in rabbits. Other symptoms that require emergency vet care include squinting, swelling, reddened eyes, pawing at the eyes, and eye bulging. Don't take a wait and see approach, as vision loss can occur in a matter of days. Catching problems early while they are still minor increases treatment success. Regular wellness checks with a rabbit vet can also identify any eye issues before they become advanced.