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How to spot if your rabbit has blocked tear ducts

Blocked tear ducts (Dacryocystitis) is an abnormal flow of tears from your rabbit's eyes.

Dacryocystitis is usually caused by poor eyelid function, blockage of their tear duct, eye infection or inflammation. Most of the time these issues are caused by dental problems – your rabbit has a single tear duct very near to their teeth.

What are the signs of blocked tear ducts in rabbits?

  • Weepy eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Hunched posture
  • Constant hiding or unwillingness to move
  • Inability to keep food in their mouth, constantly dropping food
  • Loss of hair, crusts, and matted fur around the face
  • Red eyes, sometimes with thick discharge
  • Bulging eyeballs and lumps in the face (common in those with tooth root abscesses)

How are blocked tear ducts in rabbits diagnosed?

Your vet may have to take X-rays of your rabbit’s teeth to rule out underlying dental problems. If the results show a risk of dental disease, your rabbit may need repeat tooth or jaw x-rays.

If your rabbit needs tests on its eye discharge, if appropriate, you should discuss costs with your vet before starting any treatment.

How do I treat blocked tear ducts in rabbits?

It’s fairly common for rabbits to have chronic blocked tear ducts, especially as they grow older.  Affected rabbits have weepy eyes with a milky coloured discharge in one or both eyes. In some cases their ducts may become permanently blocked, leading to constantly weeping eyes.

Your vet can flush and unblock your rabbit’s tear ducts. You should avoid your rabbit getting fly strike while they’re suffering from blocked tear ducts. Contact your vet immediately if this happens.

If you’re thinking of adopting a rabbit with blocked tear ducts

Make sure you review the clinical history of your new rabbit and ask for more details on how the condition has been treated. You’ll need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve been made aware of the condition. Any rabbit who’s had treatment is likely to have pet insurance exclusions, so it’s worth discussing potential on-going costs with your vet.

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