5 Causes Excessive Drooling in Rabbits

Drool pouring from your rabbit’s mouth – it’s an alarming sight for any bunny owner! While some wetness around the mouth is normal for rabbits as they groom, excessive drooling is not. Streaming saliva can signal your fluffy friend is in pain or distress. Don’t panic – but do take action. Excessive drooling is your rabbit’s way of telling you something is wrong inside their mouth. The culprit could be overgrown teeth, an abscess, heat stroke, or other issue making it hard to swallow. Some causes are simple to fix while others require prompt veterinary care. Read on to discover the top 5 reasons your rabbit may be exhibiting excessive drooling and learn when to call your vet immediately. With knowledge of the causes and warning signs, you can take swift action to diagnose and treat the problem and get your rabbit happily munching again.

What Are the Causes of Excessive Salivation in Rabbits?

Excessive drooling or salivation in rabbits can be caused by a variety of issues. Here are 5 of the most common causes of excessive drooling in rabbits:

Dental Concerns

One of the most common reasons for excessive drooling in rabbits is dental disease or dental concerns. Rabbits' teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. This means their teeth can easily become overgrown if not worn down properly through eating fibrous foods and chewing. Overgrown teeth misalign the jaw and make it painful for rabbits to eat and chew.

Rabbits suffering from dental issues such as overgrown teeth, tooth spurs, abscesses, or other dental alignment problems often exhibit drooling. The discomfort in their mouth and difficulty chewing causes them to stop eating properly. They may continue to motions of chewing without actually eating any food. With a misaligned jaw and dental pain, they are unable to swallow properly and tend to drool excessively.

Dental disease is one of the most preventable causes of excessive drooling if proper dental care is provided. Getting your rabbit’s teeth trimmed regularly by a veterinarian can prevent overgrowth and keep the teeth properly aligned. Making sure your rabbit has unlimited access to hay and other fibrous materials to chew on is also important preventative care. If you notice any signs of drooling or difficulty chewing, get your rabbit to the vet for a dental exam right away before the problem gets worse. Addressing dental concerns promptly can help prevent ongoing excessive drooling.

Other Teeth Problems

While overgrown teeth are the most obvious dental issue, other problems with a rabbit's teeth can also lead to excessive drooling. Cracks, chips, abscesses, and malocclusion (misalignment) of the teeth can all cause discomfort and difficulty chewing. Like overgrown teeth, these issues change how the teeth fit together when chewing. The rabbit is unable to completely close its mouth and swallow properly. This results in saliva pooling in the mouth and drooling.

Dental abscesses are extremely painful and require antibiotics and draining of the abscess by a vet in addition to addressing the damaged tooth itself. Cracks and chips in the teeth depend on severity, but may require filing down sharp edges or points that are causing mouth irritation. Malocclusion usually requires ongoing dental care to keep the teeth properly trimmed and aligned as the rabbit ages.

As prey animals, rabbits tend to hide signs of dental discomfort. Make sure you are keeping an eye out for subtle signs of drooling or tooth discomfort and get prompt veterinary care. The sooner dental problems are corrected, the less likely ongoing excessive drooling will occur.


Rabbits are very susceptible to heatstroke, especially in warm, humid weather. As they overheat, rabbits become lethargic and exhibit excessive panting and drooling. The drooling associated with heatstroke is the body's response to try to cool itself down through evaporative cooling.

To prevent heatstroke, make sure your rabbit has access to shade and air conditioning during hot weather. Avoid temperature extremes and sudden temperature changes. Provide ample cool water and ceramic tiles for your rabbit to lie on to dissipate body heat. Know the signs of heatstroke – panting, drooling, lethargy, and body temperature over 104 F. If you suspect heatstroke, act immediately to gradually lower your rabbit's temperature and contact your vet.

With prompt treatment, the excessive drooling caused by overheating can be reversed. But it's important to correct the situation quickly before organ damage and brain injury occurs. Prevention and prompt response is key to keeping your rabbit safe in hot conditions.

Medical Condition

Various infectious diseases and medical conditions affecting the mouth or head can also potentially lead to excessive drooling in rabbits. Bacterial or fungal infection of the mouth may make chewing painful, causing the rabbit to avoid eating and drool excessively.

Dental abscesses or tooth root abscesses are bacterial infections at the root of the tooth that can cause significant pain, facial swelling, and excess salivation. Facial abscesses or infection of the salivary glands themselves can also lead to excessive drooling.

Sometimes neurological conditions, such as stroke or encephalitozoon cuniculi infection, can affect nerves that control swallowing and saliva production. Nerve damage may cause the rabbit to exhibit excess drooling even without an obvious mouth or dental issue.

If your rabbit is drooling excessively, schedule a veterinary exam. Your vet can culture samples, take x-rays of the head, and perform other diagnostics to try to pinpoint any underlying medical cause. Treatment will depend on the specific condition identified. But diagnosing and treating the cause should help resolve the excessive drooling.

What Are the Signs of Excessive Drooling in Rabbits?

How do you know if your rabbit is drooling excessively and may have an underlying health issue? Look for these signs:

  • Wetness around the mouth and front paws from excess saliva

  • Saliva dripping or streaming from the mouth

  • Inability to fully close the mouth

  • Chewing motions without consuming any food

  • Avoiding eating fibrous foods like hay that require chewing

  • Loss of appetite or weight loss

  • Nasal discharge from saliva dripping down the throat

  • Saliva staining on the dewlap or fur under the chin

  • Tooth grinding or teeth chattering indicating dental pain

  • Foul odor from the mouth due to infection

  • Facial swelling around the jaws, cheeks, or mouth

Any wetness around the mouth outside of normal grooming should be noted. Streaming saliva, an open mouth, and avoidance of chewing are clear signs something is wrong and the rabbit is unable to swallow properly. Weight loss, tooth grinding, foul mouth odor, or facial swelling indicate an underlying dental or medical issue requiring veterinary attention.


To diagnose the cause of excessive drooling in rabbits, vets will use:

  • Medical history – Changes in diet, behavior, or environment to identify potential triggers

  • Physical exam – Check for dental alignment, mouth and facial swelling, temperature

  • Oral exam – Visual check for tooth overgrowth, abnormalities, ulcers

  • Dental x-rays – Detailed views of tooth roots and jaw to identify abscesses, tooth spurs, and other issues

  • Bloodwork – Check for signs of infection or organ issues

  • Culture of saliva or abscesses – Identify bacterial or fungal infections

  • Biopsy – Sample abnormal tissues for fungal, bacterial or cancer analysis

  • CT or MRI scans – Detailed 3D views of the mouth, jaw, or head to identify dental, nerve, or skull issues

Key diagnostic steps include a thorough oral exam, dental x-rays, and testing samples of any discharge or abscesses. Your vet will piece together findings from the various diagnostic tests to pinpoint what is causing pain, difficulty chewing, and excessive drooling.


Treatment for excessive drooling will depend on the underlying cause identified through veterinary diagnostics. Possible treatments may include:

  • Tooth trimming and alignment for overgrown or misaligned teeth

  • Tooth extraction if damaged or infected teeth cannot be saved

  • Antibiotics and abscess drainage for dental infections

  • Pain medication to reduce discomfort

  • Anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling

  • Special feeding techniques to get food past dental obstructions

  • Assist feeding if the rabbit is unable to eat on its own

  • Intravenous or subcutaneous fluids if the rabbit is dehydrated

  • Cooling and supportive care for heatstroke

  • Specific treatment of underlying neurological or medical conditions

The overall goal is to identify and resolve the source of pain and chewing difficulty to allow the mouth to close and function properly again. This will eliminate the excessive drooling. Any abscesses or infections must also be treated. Supportive care to maintain hydration and nutrition is key, especially if the rabbit has lost significant weight already.


With appropriate treatment, rabbits with excessive drooling can make a full recovery. However, it is important to follow all veterinary recommendations closely, including:

  • Administering all medications as directed

  • Attending follow up veterinary appointments for continued monitoring

  • Following special feeding and care instructions if assist feeding is needed during recovery

  • Providing ample recovery time before retuning to normal diet and activity level

  • Monitoring weight and hydration status during recovery

  • Following dental care directions to keep teeth properly trimmed

  • Returning promptly for additional treatment if drooling resumes

Some causes of excessive drooling like dental disease or misaligned teeth may require lifelong management. But with a treatment plan in place, ongoing drooling issues can usually be minimized.

The prognosis is excellent in cases of simple tooth trimming or one-time medical issues. Cases involving extensive tooth removal or facial abscesses may require longer recovery times and carry more guarded prognoses.

Patience and following veterinary directions is key to ensuring affected rabbits fully recover and see a resolution of excessive drooling after treatment. With appropriate care, rabbits can return to happily eating and chewing their regular diet once the source of mouth pain and dental obstruction is resolved.

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