Dacryocystitis is a common condition in rabbits, often noted as epiphora (watery excessive eye discharge) from one or both eyes!

You may see

  • Excessive watery discharge – epiphora
  • Reddened eyelids
  • Hair loss from chronic wetness
  • Creamy/white discharge from eyes

There is a very “tortuous” nasolacrimal duct – which deviates really close to tooth roots. The multiple bends and proximity to roots means in the case of dental disease, the duct may become inflamed or obstructed. Xrays or a head CT may be necessary to assess the presence and degree of dental disease .

dact duct

Source Ophthalmology of Rabbits – 2018. PACVC – Donnely, T


Flushing both ventral puncta with short gentle bursts can be successful at flushing through the nasolacrimal ducts. Flushing from the ventral puncta to the nostrils.

A good way to visualise the puncta, in a conscious rabbit with local sedation (or sedated rabbit), is to evert the lower eyelid. The puncta should be 4mm from the ventral palpebral margin. Using a 25 g IV catheter you should be able to catheterise the puncta and gently flush fluid through the nasolacrimal duct. Additionally post flushing administer a watery chloramphenicol eye drop through catheter into nasolacrimal duct. (or broad spectrum eye ointment with no corticosteroids in it!)

Flushing may be frustrating, as too much pressure can risk rupturing the lacrimal sac. Too little may not result in free flowing fluid through the nasolacrimal duct.

Dental disease may be present too – so with recurrent dacryocystitis (and a thorough work up) – xrays or a head CT may be necessary


  • Ophthalmology of Rabbits – 2018. PACVC – Donnely, T
  • Ocular Surface Disease of Rabbits – Bedard, Kathleen , Vet Clin Exot Anim 22 (2019) 1–14