Problems with your rabbits’ teeth are often part and parcel of having them as pets. With the right knowhow, however, dental health issues like overgrown teeth will no longer seem difficult to manage.
Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. Therefore, it takes a lot of daily chewing and gnawing to keep them worn down to usable lengths. If a rabbit’s teeth are not kept at an appropriate length by the natural act of chewing, they will almost certainly become overgrown.
About rabbit teeth
Rabbits have 28 permanent teeth. Their incisors (front teeth) are typically the most noticeable, but rabbits also have molars and these are also susceptible to overgrowing.
Overgrown incisors are usually the easiest to identify. They can get so long that they begin to curve and stick out between a rabbit’s lips. This often leads to them getting stuck on things, such as cage bars. They might even grow into the rabbit’s gums or the roof of their mouth.
Likewise, molars (the teeth in the back of rabbits’ mouths) can also grow to excessive lengths. Rabbits with overgrown molars tend to hypersalivate (drool excessively) and can struggle to chew and swallow. Watch your rabbits carefully for drooling and eating problems, which can be a sign that their molars are overgrown. Look also for any behavioural changes that may signal a problem.
It's important to be aware of the possible complications regarding your rabbits’ teeth; without proper attention, overgrown teeth can cause serious trauma, anorexia (loss of appetite) and even death from the inability to chew and swallow.
Rabbit teeth dental care
The good news is that you can easily manage your bunnies’ teeth by giving them appropriate food and toys to chew. You can also get their incisors trimmed regularly by your vet if need be.
Bear in mind that more severe cases might need surgery to correct or even completely remove the overgrown teeth. Your vet can advise on the risks and options available.
How to prevent overgrown teeth
Rabbits’ teeth never stop growing, so follow these simple steps to prevent them from becoming overgrown:
- Check their teeth regularly for signs of overgrowth – at least once a week.
- Feed them a diet that’s rich in fibre to help them wear down their teeth and mimic what they would eat in the wild: grass, leafy vegetables like kale, hay, etc.
- If you use a kibble feed alongside long fibre, make sure you use a complete kibble to prevent your rabbits avoiding low-calcium pellets.
- Provide plenty of safe objects for them to chew, for example, plain blocks of smooth woods and specialised rabbit toys are good options.
Trimming rabbit molars
If you have a rabbit with overgrown molars, the problem can be more serious. The molar teeth have points that can cause pain when chewing and if this happens, your rabbit will stop eating.
Trimming your rabbits’ molars is more difficult than trimming their incisors. It’s also more difficult to tell if a rabbit’s molars are overgrown without an oral examination. The issue is usually only detected during a visit to the vet, so consult a professional if you suspect there is a problem.
If your vet confirms that the molars are too long, your rabbit will need to be sedated to have their teeth trimmed. Your vet might also recommend X-rays.
If you have a rabbit with overgrown teeth, get in touch with your vet as soon as possible. Regardless of how mild the case may appear, it’s always best to have your pet checked out by an expert.
As with all pets, the right insurance can help to ensure your rabbits have access to the best care possible. Remember to get your bunnies’ teeth checked by a vet every year and to undertake any treatment they recommend. Rabbit insurance can help you cover your pets’ veterinary treatment costs.
Do you have any other advice for helping rabbits with overgrown teeth? Share your experiences with us on social media using the tag #PethoodStories