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Rabbits/My rabbits left eye has come out and he has a mass under his jaw on the same side. What shoul I do?


My four and a half year old rabbit was looking sick and not eating. The vet found he had high fever and gave antibiotic injections. Though the fever went down he didn't improve much. On the 4 th day I found his left eye was swollen so I rushed him to another vetinarary practice which has a vet who is rabbit savy. Unfortunately she was sick and another vet examined and said he may be having an abscess and scheduled for surgery four days later and asked to continue the antibiotic and do forced feeding. It was extremely difficult to feed him even with a syringe. By the next day the eye ball was out and he had stopped passing pellets. Still no change in the treatment. I was desperately searching the Internet for any info and saw the postings about bicillin. I took him back and showed the articles to the vet and she was willing to try it. We live inSri Lanka and bicillin was not available but we managed to get them separately. Now he has been on it daily for 6 days and is a different bunny. Within hours he was eagerly eating the blended  veges and now eats finely chopped veges and dried leaves. Runs around the house and looks content. But the eye looks terrible though I keep putting artificial tears and antibiotic eye drops it is opaque and dry and the exposed muscles look dark . Also when I took him for the 3 rd dose of pen g procain+ benzathine they noted an abscess below the lower left jaw as well. Next day it was bigger, but now it's a bit less.
My worry is even the rabbit savy vet has never done a rabbit enucleation and one vet was suggesting removing the tooth by pushing  downward from the sinus behind the eye and comparing it to how it's done in a horse. This scares me. Is this safe?. Will this kill my bunny? They also seem as if they might change the antibiotic or stop it too early.  
Please advice I am scared I will lose my bunny.
Thank you.

ANSWER: Dear Kumi

No surgery is 100% risk-free.  But if the eye is protruding that much, it will likely be dried out and damaged because he can't close the eye.  If he can close it, I would wait to see if the abscess resolves.  Ask the vet if the eyelids could be sutured shut over the eye to protect it in the meantime.

Otherwise, the eye might have to come out if it does not recede.  I would not try to tackle the tooth at the same time, since the bicillin *might* resolve the infection.  Impossible to say after only six days.  It might be best to wait and continue putting ophthalmic ointment on the eye several times a day until you decide what can be done, as long as the eye isn't causing him terrible pain.

I'm glad he's responding with the two penicillins, and hope he will be completely well soon.

Sending healing thoughts...


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Dana,
Thankyou for the prompt reply. What you said makes sense. It would be unwise to do too many procedures at once.
Situation has changed for the worse as his eye is now filled with pus. He can't close the eye as most of the eye is out. The vet was planning to do all the procedure yesterday but unfortunately another bunny she operated on just before died and she very frankly told me my bun's condition was much worse and left the decision to me. He was stable then so I said we'll wait and see. I think his eye got pressed yesterday when the x-rays were taken. I saw clear liquid come out. This morning there is pus and he seems in pain , though still eating. The vet I find now is on leave for tw weeks. I am putting chloramphenicol eye ointment. Is there anything else I can do? It feels hard to the touch and the pus seems under the tissue. Not oozing out.
Thank you Dana, once again.

Dear Kumi,

If the dual-acting penicillin is not working, then the eye must come out so the abscess can be packed with something to kill the bacteria.  It is extremely unfortunate that the vet is gone for two weeks; I hope you can find someone else who can do this, as the bunny is likely suffering.

I wish I could tell you a magic cure, but it does not sound good.  Do you know what dose of Penicillin your bunny is/was getting?  If it was too low, it might not be effective.



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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:

Find a rabbit vet at for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.

RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.


I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology

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