Whilst our dentists are satisfied with us brushing and flossing our teeth, rabbits have a much more complex dental system that requires regular care and attention.
With consistent monitoring and a carefully planned diet, you can ensure that your rabbit’s teeth stay healthy and pain-free.
Petplan takes a look at how rabbits’ teeth function, how you can prevent any complications from occurring, and what symptoms to look for if they do…
How do rabbit teeth work?
Rabbit teeth have evolved to be able to break down their natural diet of tough and fibrous materials, such as stalks and twigs. As a result, their teeth are ‘open-rooted’, meaning that they grow continually as they are constantly worn down, keeping them at an even length. Their top front teeth grow at around 3mm a week!
However, domestic rabbits naturally eat less fibrous material than wild rabbits. Therefore, your rabbit’s teeth aren’t worn down as successfully, but continue to grow at the same rate as those in the wild.
Health risks associated with your rabbit’s teeth
Very sharp tooth edges (also called spurs) can be formed which cut into your rabbit’s cheeks and tongues. If these cuts become infected, they can cause soft tissue abscesses, which must be treated by a vet.
Sometimes, rabbit teeth don’t meet properly due to uneven growth. This produces a malocclusion, created by uneven pressure which can cause the root to become impacted.
A malocclusion is a very painful issue, solved by trimming the tooth, or on occasion, extraction.
Dos and Don’ts: how to prevent any issues
Although it’s possible for your rabbit to develop a dental problem, there are many things you can do to try and prevent this.
- Provide them with enough high quality fibrous food to chew – a mixture of hay and grass is the best option, and should make up around ¾ of their food intake. The different textures help to evenly wear down your rabbit’s teeth
- Feed them fresh veg and tree branches, twigs and leaves – ensure these have not been chemically treated. You can use fruit tree leaves and twigs that you might find in your garden
- Get their teeth examined twice yearly by a vet
- Trim their nails often – they can use these to scratch off the enamel on their teeth
- Feed your rabbit lots of pellet feed – don’t feed your rabbit too much pellet as overfeeding can stop them eating hay and grass, essential to their health
- Feed them muesli products
To ensure your bunnies are bouncing with good health, you can view our visual guide to rabbit food here.
Symptoms to look out for
Rabbits don’t show outward signs of pain, so observe your animal closely as any deviations in behaviour can indicate a dental problem!
Always make sure that they are eating normally, and note any change in their eating habits.
When you check your rabbit, look out for these symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Runny eyes and runny nose
- Bad breath
- Faecal clagging around the back end
- Lumps on the face – feel the rabbit’s head on both sides and check for any lumps that are on one side only
- Overgrown incisors – do their front teeth meet evenly?
If you suspect that your pet is in pain or you notice any of these symptoms, consult your vet as soon as possible.
Have you had issues with your rabbit’s teeth? Do you have any advice for other pet owners? Let us know in the comments below…