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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16903
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My newzealin rabbit has a swollen shut right eye with oozing

Customer Question

my white newzealin rabbit has a swollen shut right eye with oozing Ive cleaned the area using a warm compress
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the rabbit recently had ear mites used med to clear up
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to see that you've been waiting a bit for a response. I just signed on and would be happy to give you my opinion.

I'm sorry to hear about your fellow's swollen shut, oozing right eye.

This is probably related to a bacterial infection called pasteurella (snuffles). It can cause upper respiratory, and eye infections too as well as abscesses under the skin and in the respiratory tract in some rabbits. Pasteurella is very contagious and once it is introduced into a rabbitry it is almost impossible to get rid of. An infected bunny can sneeze and pass it on via droplets in the air to other rabbits in the colony, or does can pass it to their kits. Inapparent carriers will look normal but carry the bacteria. Sometimes these bunnies never get sick or only get sick when stressed or they get old or they are stressed by something and and their immune system weakens. In your fellow's case the ear mites may have stressed his immune system, and he may have irritated his eye when scratching his ears because of the mites, thus introducing the infection or allowing it to thrive.

If you are interested here is a link to an article which will give you more information about pasteurella or "snuffles" in rabbits:

Unfortunately once a bunny has the bacteria it is almost impossible to get rid of it. We can send it into hiding sometimes with antibiotic therapy but it almost always comes back.

Over the counter medications like Polysporin just don't work very well. Tobramycin, Ciprofloxacin, and Enrofloxacin eye drops are the most effective eye drops against this bacteria.

Sometimes we also need to prescribe oral antibiotics. In rare cases we need to use injectable antibiotics.

Ideally we don't prescribe oral or systemic antibiotics to bunnies, unless we absolutely have to, because their gastrointestinal system depends upon the right mix of bacteria to work correctly. Systemic antibiotics can kill "good" gut bacteria leading to serious complications. In short we need to be very careful treating bunnies. If systemic antibiotics are necessary we can give probiotics to attempt to keep gut bacteria balanced.

The other possible cause of what you are seeing is an abscessed molar root. These tooth roots end near the eye and when infected the pocket of infection can cause eye irritation, swelling and a secondary infection there too. This is less likely in a young bunny, but I mention the possibility to be complete.

Your bunny needs to see a veterinarian that is experienced with rabbits. In the meantime you can flush his eyes with sterile saline and use artificial tears to keep his eyes more comfortable. Use warm compresses to remove crusts from around his eyes and keep them clean.

Best of luck with your fellow. Let me know if you have further questions.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hi Jerome,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara