Rabbit Death after Conjunctivitis

by Hannah
(Minnesota )

How can you tell if a rabbit has conjunctivitis and how can you treat it with home remedies?


A couple weeks ago I had a baby rabbit die while I was treating it for conjunctivitis.

I know that conjunctivitis can be characterized by red inflamed eyes and and a pussy discharge, but are there any other warning signs that it might be conjunctivitis.

When we noticed the little bunny had something I cleaned its eye twice a day with a warm damp cloth but it died after three days. Are there any home remedies that could help heal conjunctivitis.

***** Karen Sez *****

Sorry to hear it, Hannah.

You're right about the conjunctivitis symptoms. But, rabbits don't typically die from it. They *can*, of course, but more usually, their immune systems eventually overcome the infection. Sometimes the eye is so scarred as to be blind, but the rabbit lives. When treated in a timely manner with, say, ophthalmic antibiotic ointment, rabbits recover without any ill effects.

I have had very little luck with treating conjunctivitis with natural remedies. I know some breeders use tea bag compresses and rinses. I tend to just cut to the chase and apply Terramycin ophthalmic ointment, which works like magic within a matter of days.

In the case of your bunny, I think the eye infection was itself a symptom of a much bigger underlying systemic infection, perhaps either bordetellosis or pasteurellosis (P. bordetella being somewhat more likely at an early age), both of which are common among domestic rabbits. Staphylococcus aureus is another possibility.

The systemic infection is probably what killed the bunny, and is evidence that the lil guy did not have an adequate immune system for life. In the wild, the bunny would also have died and nothing would have cried. (Nature can be very harsh.)

You did a valiant job, Hannah. Sometimes bunnies die.

Looking at the big picture over time, the best home remedy is health in the herd's genetic makeup. If you keep and breed only the healthiest animals, then the likelihood of losing rabbits to disease shrinks with every passing month and year. That is good both for your rabbits AND for your own peace of mind and levels of joy.

That said, conjunctivitis is one health challenge that I DO medicate topically, because it is not usually a systemic problem, but just an easily cured eye infection...usually.

(If you had had the Terramycin ointment on hand and used it, I suspect your bunny would *still* have died. If there is a 'next time,' try getting a vet's diagnosis so you can see if there are other options you can try.)

For more info on rabbit health:
Rabbit Raising Problem Solver (the comprehensive health resource)

Keep Your Rabbits Healthy E-Book

Enjoy your rabbits!

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