The most common problem we see with rabbits is dental disease. It is an incredibly painful disease, which is the cause of constant pain to your pet rabbit when they eat.
These animals are all adapted to feed on tough and fibrous grasses, which requires a lot of chewing. Their teeth grow constantly throughout their life and if they are not worn down properly, or if the tooth position changes in the jaw, then the teeth can overgrow or develop sharp points, which can cut into the cheek or tongue of the animal.
This can be extremely painful and some animals will stop eating and can even die if proper attention is not given.
Symptoms of dental disease usually include:
• eating less, (particularly the foods that need more chewing such as hay)
• drooling, or production of excessive saliva, accompanied by wet fur under the chin and forelimbs
• eye and nose discharge
• loss of energy
• weight loss
• changes in size, shape and amount of faeces, even diarrhoea
• presence of lumps on the jaws/face
Some animals may show frustration or aggression. You may also be able to hear ‘tooth grinding’ or clicking as well.
The size of the oral of the rabbit is small, and this makes examination on a conscious rabbit very difficult. During the consultation, your KVH vet will carefully examine the jawbone and face, check the incisors, or front teeth, and examine the teeth within the mouth if possible. If we suspect there is dental disease we will advise a full and proper examination under anaesthetic and an x-ray in order to assess the health of the tooth roots, the presence of an abscess or bone inflammation.
The vet will then use a combination of equipment to take away sharp spikes and reduce the length of any overlong crowns. If there are loose or rotten teeth, the vet will remove these at the same time.
After the examination and treatment, we will show you how to support and feed your pet.
Trying to resolve any dental health issues at home, without the correct medical knowledge and equipment, will cause distress and pain for any rabbit. It can also lead to a fracture of the tooth in the crown, the visible part of the tooth, or below the gum line. Additionally, the tooth can stop growing after any damage to the root or, it can even lead to an infection of the root. In most cases, dental diseases worsen when treated at home with tools such as nail clippers.
Treatment of dental disorders should always and only be done by an experienced veterinarian.