Rabbit health

Swollen, red eyes on the rabbit

August 17, 2019

If you notice that the rabbit has sore eyes, reddened eyelids, tears flowing down her cheeks, then this is most likely conjunctivitis. It is possible, for some reason, you will miss this phase of the disease, which is not excluded with the mass keeping of animals, especially with pit keeping and untimely examination. Then, even with the neglected form, you can notice that the pet’s eyes are narrowed or even closed, stuck together, being glued with pus. All these unpleasant manifestations arise as a result of the inflammatory process in the rabbit’s eye (s), or, more precisely, the mucous membrane, the conjunctiva, becomes inflamed. A feature of this disease is that a number of disorders and other causes of biological and technogenic origin can lead to the result described above. I will try to reveal all the main ones, and at the same time, for each reason, outline a circle of preventive and therapeutic measures.

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva.

For a more accurate understanding of the essence of conjunctivitis, it is necessary, at least in a nutshell, to describe the part of the eye in which inflammation occurs. We all know that the basis of the organ of vision of an animal is a moving eyeball. It is located in the eye socket and is covered and protected from the outside for centuries. So, in order to prevent the penetration of small particles and microorganisms between the eyeball and the walls of the eye socket. the conjunctiva serves. It lines the eyelids from the inside and with one edge grows to the eyeball, covering its front part. Due to its small thickness (up to hundredths of a millimeter), elasticity, humidity of the coating, the eyes are able to freely move in the orbit of the orbit. If you look at the drawing of the organ of vision in the context, you can see that the conjunctiva forms a kind of bags. This, let’s say, structural element is also necessary to ensure its mobility. The deepest conjunctival sac is located under the lower eyelid.

What connects this shell? From the side of the eyelid, the conjunctiva grows to its cartilage (upper arch), and inside the eye gradually passes into the epithelium of the cornea of ​​the eyeball (lower arch). Despite the visually small size of the eye of the rabbit, the area of ​​the conjunctiva can reach more than 10 sq cm. Accordingly, the volume of the formed bag is measured in milliliters.

The causes of the disease.

Mechanical contact.

Unfortunately, this seemingly perfect structure of the eye has one significant drawback. Foreign objects can penetrate into the cavity of the bags formed by the conjunctiva and open from the palpebral fissure, for example, abrasive dust. the smallest particles of hay or compound feed. Further, with natural movements of the flesh, microtraumas occur, leading eventually to conjunctivitis. Of course, for this there is a protective mechanism for counteraction, namely: a tight fit of the eyelid to the eyeball, and a prominent tear washed out a mint or grain of sand accidentally caught. But keep in mind that rabbits are constantly exposed to this risk, they gnaw all the time, and dust enters the cage and pit almost unhindered. The list of other objects and foreign bodies that could fall under the eyelids includes ordinary and building dust, sawdust, household dirt and feces, hairs, small insects and much more.


Also, in these hidden corners of the eye, by analogy with dust and even with it, microbes penetrate their shelter, which under certain conditions begin to multiply in mass, causing inflammation. In the latter case, the disease can develop, both in acute form, and become chronic. You ask, where do the harmful bacteria and viruses come from? Basically, they are already present on the body of the rabbit. Partially, they are already in the eye, but can additionally migrate from the nasal cavity through the open connecting nasolacrimal canal. The nasolacrimal canal is a direct continuation of the lacrimal sac, which tapers in its lower section, passes into the canal and connects the orbit with the lower nasal passage as well as with other parts of the body and even from their brothers and other pets. With sufficient immunity and the absence of risk factors, this cohabitation has no harmful consequences. The immune system recognizes alien animals and quickly produces antibodies.

The defeat of young animals.

As a separate case, I would single out conjunctivitis in newborn rabbits. This subspecies of infectious eye damage is not uncommon. The fact is that there is a large dependence of the probability of the disease on a nutritious diet, both in terms of calorie content and in terms of obtaining vitamins. This is especially true for vitamin A. If, for example, the female mother does not produce enough milk for the entire brood, then hypovitaminosis develops against the background of dystrophy. In this case, the conjunctiva inflammation is almost certainly found in the babies. Instead of being happy to open their eyes after the prescribed 12-14 days (it is necessary to control it), you will have to treat this unpleasant disease and remove the accumulated pus from the stuck eyes. Even more likely, this scenario will occur if you use artificial feeding. Practice shows that the use of a complex vitamin preparation, such as Gamavit, significantly reduces the risks of damage, and also contributes to the cure of conjunctivitis. Another lifesaver is fortified fish oil. Experienced rabbit breeders, first of all, after the end of the suction period, try to accustom the kids to grated carrots.

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The sources of danger listed above are the main ones and it is they who in most cases are the culprits of conjunctivitis. But volatile chemicals, fumes that interact with the cells of the mucous tissue and cause inflammation, microscopic damage and ulcers can become no less dangerous in terms of irritation. Even tobacco smoke and smoke from a bonfire at high concentrations can trigger conjunctivitis. The pollen of some plants, particles of hair and skin can become allergens. Many drugs have side effects, and can also act as irritants. In case of inflammation of the eyes, it will not be superfluous to recall what drugs had previously treated their eared friend. Even more dangers await decorative rabbits. Living in apartments, they are at risk of contact with acids, alkalis, sprayed perfumes, etc. Our pets do not respond well to strong odors, even those that come from their own bowel movements. Even worse, when there are animals such as pigs, cows, and hens in large numbers next to rabbits. Not only because it interferes with breathing, depresses the eared, reduces immunity, but also causes an allergic reaction. Not so often, but a banal intolerance of some food happens. It is necessary to analyze what changes in the diet have been made recently.


The question of vitamins will have to be returned once again because of their importance not only for young animals, but also in relation to the entire population. So, if the diet is poor, monotonous, the norm of carotene responsible for vitamin “A” is not provided, then things will not go very well. This applies directly to the mucous surfaces of the eyes. Resistance to irritants and microbial activity decreases, keratinization of the epithelium occurs, lining the conjunctiva with all the ensuing consequences. Instead of an elastic layer between the eyelid and the eyeball, a rough surface will appear. If xerophthalmia (dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea) is added to this, then this is a disaster. What foods are rich in carotene? This is primarily carrots and its green part, herbs, proper hay, forage cabbage, legumes at the beginning of the growing season. Naturally, there should be no problems in the summer and early fall. Worse in winter. In addition, it must be borne in mind that in the process of storing feed, by spring, carotene becomes smaller. It simply collapses. But in the silo, the supply of vitamins is almost the same as in the beginning. Therefore, I can advise those of you who harvest this type of juicy feed to add the above components to the silo. Do not forget about germinated grains. If you have completely switched to concentrated feeds, ask how much vitamin A is contained in them.

Other important factors.

Inflammation of the eyelids caused by myxomatosis should be distinguished. At first, all the signs are exactly the same as with classical infectious conjunctivitis, but the pathogen is more aggressive and dangerous, and the treatment, in addition to eye therapy, is more extensive, since it affects the whole body at the same time. All of the above fully applies to pasteurellosis. Sometimes in rabbits nasolacrimal canals clog (clog), which connect the pharynx (lower nasal passage) with the orbit. Obstruction of the tear ducts leads to accumulation of fluid in the conjunctival sacs and cause inflammation of them. This violation can be eliminated in a veterinary clinic. You also need to analyze the causes of clogging of the channel, most likely it is just enough to change the litter or to exclude some food. That is, at first it has nothing to do with conjunctivitis, but it can lead to it.

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Not so often, but still there is inflammation of the tissues of the eye due to malocclusion. Here, simply treating the disease with drops, ointments, and even antibiotics will not work. The main reason for this is that abnormally grown teeth constantly press on the eyeball. Sometimes the pressure is so strong that the eye crawls out of orbit. In more complex and advanced stages, only amputation of the organ of vision helps. In addition, the nasolacrimal ducts are located very close to the roots of the teeth and therefore can be pinched with incorrect growth of the latter.

A feature of rabbits is that individual individuals are born with an anomaly. their eyelids are turned inward. This leads to the fact that the eyelashes do not grow outward, but inward and their ends constantly irritate the mucous membrane of the eye, causing injuries and cause inflammation. This defect is removed surgically. You also need to exclude such individuals from the breeding herd, so that by breeding to reduce the risk of giving birth to rabbits with inversion of the eyelids.

According to statistics, pregnant females fall into the risk zone, especially with compacted okroli, rabbits that are sick with other diseases or weakened after them, animals that are in extreme conditions (heat, cold, drafts, high humidity, stress), who do not receive the necessary calories and vitamins. In the period after planned vaccinations, you also need to pay more attention to the eyes of rabbits. Sometimes after vaccination against myxomatosis in animals, profuse tear secretion begins, the hair under the eyes becomes very wet. But this has nothing to do with conjunctivitis and even with a weakening of the immune system. In this case, we are talking about the features of the applied vaccine. After a few days, everything goes away without any therapy, and even less treatment. Wool, of course, periodically needs to be wet and cleaned of possible contaminants.

Household injuries to the eyes and adjacent tissues are just as dangerous. They can occur during fights, mating with an aggressive partner or partner, injured with sharp objects, uncomfortable feeders and drinkers. Rodents caught in the cage can cause such a lesion. Do not forget about flying parasites. Mosquitoes and midges most often bite into areas that are unprotected by hair, including the eyelids.

How to recognize conjunctivitis at an early stage?

It is very important to notice the signs of the disease as early as possible. Firstly, then it is much easier and less expensive to treat it, and secondly, in this way it can be prevented from spreading throughout the farm. If, on the contrary, you don’t notice the problem and think that it is somehow "resolving" itself, you can cause irreparable damage to your entire business. In the best case, the inflammatory process will take a chronic, sluggish form, which is also unacceptable.

Swollen, red eyes on the rabbit

The initial stage of conjunctivitis.

Initially, conjunctivitis is barely distinguishable. You can see only a slight unnatural redness of the eyelids and their swelling or slight thickening. Then small transparent discharge appears, the rabbit cries as if. They become more intense over time, acquire a whitish color. Pay attention to the corners of the eyes, where the first to notice white lumps. The strange behavior of the rabbit should alert you. As with most other diseases, the animal becomes lethargic, nervous, eats worse, lies a lot. But in our case, photophobia is added. That is, the bright light really does not like and annoying, as a result of which the rabbit clogs into the far corner and tries to turn away from the light source. If this does not help, then he sits with his eyes closed.

How does conjunctivitis translate into keratitis and encephalitis?

The catarrhal or mucous process, if not taken, becomes purulent. If in more detail, then the eyes turn sour, accumulated pus begins to stand out from the crowded eye bags, mix with tears. Tears flow down the cheeks, richly moistening them and corroding the skin, causing suffering to rabbits. This is because their usual route, the tear duct, is blocked. The hair under the eyes first sticks together and then generally falls out under the influence of salts and aggressive microflora. At the site of the lesion under dried crusts, sores occur.

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Even more animals suffer from arising pain in the eye area. Often the inflammatory process goes to the cornea of ​​the eye and the inner surface and edges of the eyelids, which can be seen from the formed sores on them. This is keratitis. At a later stage, most of the cornea becomes white. This is nothing but a dense, opaque scar. With the formation of clouding, vision deteriorates sharply, and with the appearance of a thirst, the rabbit loses its ability to see. Often a thorn is “decorated” with one large ulcer or several smaller ones. But this is not all, because an ulcer. a non-healing wound, tends to progress inward, which is fraught with leakage of the eye.

The final point in the capacity of the eyes puts the adhesion of the eyelids. The frozen pus glues the eyelids no worse than the Moment glue. We should not forget that the eye is an organ directly connected with the brain and conjunctivitis is easily transformed into an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. encephalitis. Here we are not talking about reduced growth and condition, loss of vision, but about survival.

Conjunctivitis treatment.

Sometimes a rabbit breeder, having seen a rabbit with swollen eyelids and copious discharge, makes a decision about urgent slaughter. Of course, it is everyone’s business to determine the appropriateness of treatment in a particular case. But if you are convinced that this is not myxomatosis or pasteurellosis, you can safely take on the treatment of the animal. Conjunctivitis, especially in the initial stage, responds well to treatment, although this is not such a quick matter. Why can’t treatment be fleeting? This is due to the structural features of the eye. Comparatively large conjunctival sacs, a thin tear-nasal canal, harmful microflora, which seeks to gain a foothold in them, are forced to tune right away in a serious way.

The classical treatment regimen is as follows: the main cause of the disease is eliminated, drugs are used to relieve inflammation (drops, ointments), in case of purulent discharge that has begun, soak eyes, squeeze pus out of the bags, use antibiotics (antimicrobials). If it turns out that these are consequences of an allergy, then antihistamines and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed. Next, we turn to the features in specific situations.

In catarrhal form.

The treatment here is easier, because the disease has not yet been launched and has not yet taken root. We need to wash our eyes every 3-4 hours using a clean, lint-free cloth moistened with an antiseptic. As such, you can apply, for example, a 2% solution of boric acid, a weak solution of potassium permanganate (1-2 crystals per glass of water), a solution of furatsilina (1 tablet in half a glass of water). If it is not possible to use these medicines, use folk remedies, such as a decoction or infusion of chamomile, calendula, or just take warm, slightly brewed black tea.

All liquids must be filtered before use. After each rinse, it is necessary to lay a healing ointment over the eyelids or instill 2-3 drops in each eye. As an ointment, use tetracycline, aureomycin or their analogs, anti-inflammatory hydrocortisone. It’s even better and more practical to use drops. For example, zinc ophthalmic, anandine, and garazon are widely used. You can use those that are sold specifically for dogs or cats, for example, ciprosplight, iris. Do not forget to treat the areas of the body where tears fall, otherwise irritation will go, a scab will form and ulcers will appear under it. Antiseptics are also suitable here. To the above, you can add alcohol and strong moonshine.

With a purulent form.

First of all, you need to glue the eyelids and remove the crusts of dried pus with a solution of boric acid (2-3% solution). In order not to injure the eye again, I recommend first soaking them and softening them. Use gauze or lint-free cloth soaked in this solution. Apply it to the eyelids for at least 2 minutes. We continue treatment with washing of the conjunctival sinuses and treatment of areas adjacent to the eye. But if there is a sticky, sticky hair fibers, then it is easier to cut them with scissors. For treatment, not just eye ointments and drops that relieve irritation are used, but treating antibacterial or antiviral, that is, antibiotics that suppress harmful microflora.

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