Importance Of Regular Dental Check-Ups For Your Rabbit

Importance of Regular Dental Check-Ups for Your Rabbit
Photo By Joshua Daniel on Unsplash

 

Dental issues are very common among rabbits and is often associated to what they eat. Poor diet plans contribute a whole lot to decaying of teeth. Alongside, poor dental hygiene adds to the overall dental health. Simply put, it may not be deadly to feed sugared lemon water to your rabbit, but it doesn’t mean it will not affect their body. Setting up right diet plan to prevent the dental issues most common among rabbits is paramount. Daily cleaning and regular checking to make sure their teeth are growing in the right proportion and there are no signs of decay or any dental disease. First, let’s learn what types of teeth do rabbits have.

What Types Of Teeth Do Rabbits Have?

Rabbits have open-rooted teeth as a result of their eating habits and overall lifestyle. This would mean that their teeth continue to grow throughout their life cycle. Unlike humans, they don’t have baby teeth which fall out to be replaced by sturdy adult ones.

Research has proved that their habit of chewing rough grass or hay helps their teeth to ground down. In total, rabbits have 28 teeth out of which 2 are main incisors on top and bottom (the long teeth we see at the front), 2 are tiny incisors beside the main ones on the top, and 22 are premolars and molars. Diastema fills the gap separating the incisors from the premolars. They’re an integral part of the whole digestive system.

Incisors are used to cut grass and molars do the work of chewing it. Incisors grow incredibly fast, somewhere between 2 to 2.4 mm per week. And thus, if rabbits do not chew on rough foods, there is no stopping their teeth from growing severely. Although, there are registered cases where massively overgrown incisors are seen to have grown round in a circle and embed itself in the skull.

Types Of Dental Disease

Deformed or damaged teeth:

Just like overgrown teeth, deformed or damaged teeth can affect your rabbit’s ability to chew. Deformed or uneven shaped teeth causes pain and swelling which stops your rabbit from chewing properly, grooming themselves and being able to eat.

Overgrowth:

Usually, domestic rabbits suffer with overgrown front teeth due to the lack of correct food consumption. They can have overgrown molars too. If your rabbit’s teeth become too long, they can start growing into the soft tissue and cause pain. This furthermore causes their chewing ability and prevents them from breaking down hard and rough foods. Stick to a fibre rich diet consisting of hay and grass to prevent this and get overgrown teeth checked and trimmed by your vet.

Eye problems:

Rabbit’s teeth are very close to their tear ducts. The overgrown teeth tend to press upon the duct, causing tears to spill out onto your pet’s fur around the eye. This can lead to eye infections and even abscesses behind the eye.

Look For Symptoms Of Dental Disease

Once the condition becomes severe, it is difficult even for the vet to curb the spread. It’s important to catch when the spread has just begun, if not prevent it completely. Look for these obvious signs to know the dental disease has began its manifestation.

– Reduction in appetite: Your rabbit is saying no to their most favorite foods and not eating their usual quantity.

– Tooth grinding: Loud tooth grinding is a sign of pain. To differentiate tooth grinding from purring, they are louder and slower than their “purring”. Grindings are usually farther apart and often accompanied by other signs of discomfort such as bulging eyes.

– Excessive salivation: Your rabbit has began salivating more and in great volume.

– Selective eating: Your rabbit has began choosing to eat soft foods only, pushing away rough or hard foods. E.g. Hay, grass, pellets, cauliflower, etc.

– Diarrhea: Due to inadequate chewing, it upsets their intestinal system.

– Runny eyes: Dental damage can spread to their tear ducts, damaging them in the process and making them leak more often.

In severe cases, they stop eating entirely and fall sick due to malnutrition and lack of food. They would need medical emergency immediately as their stomachs are sensitive too and lack of nourishment can make matters worse.

How To Check Rabbit’s Teeth At Home

First, you need to make your rabbit sit in one place and stay steady. This may be best done with two people. One can hold the rabbit and other can check their teeth. Check their incisor teeth first to see if they aren’t lining up right or if they seem uneven. In that case, vet involvement is required since this is a sure sign of something wrong with their teeth.

Unfortunately, the back teeth would be hard to check without the required equipment. Diastema, which is the gap between incisors and premolars) is blocked by an infolding of the cheeks. And that is why we cannot see the premolars or molars from the outside.

Vets has the required equipment to run this check. Usually, they use scope, which is a device like a speculum, to part the folds of the cheek tissue and look at the surfaces of the hidden teeth. Even Vets has to use anesthesia to make this process of checking every part of every tooth while providing comfort and painless experience. And thus, it is not recommended to do all this by ourselves if we do not have the required medical experience. Consult a vet if the incisors show any beginning signs of decay.

Learn more about the steps to ensure healthy teeth for your rabbits here.

Which Foods Are Best For Rabbits’ Teeth

Hay and fresh grass should make up majority of their diet. These rough foods help to grind down their ever-growing tooth and keep them in shape. They can be given fresh veggies and fruits in the mornings and pellets for added nutrition, but these should be given in small quantities. If your rabbit only prefers soft foods, they need to be made used to eating rough foods for the health of their teeth. Consult your vet if you encounter such a situation.

A quick look on foods which are safe for our rabbits:

Bottom Line

Dental disease is very common in rabbits which is why keeping an eye out is recommended. Early signs of teeth decay can prevent the issue from growing. Also, the right diet will help you prevent these teeth diseases. With regular care and checkups as mentioned above, you can make sure your rabbit’s teeth stay in great condition. Apart from the front teeth, it’s pretty hard to check other teeth and rabbits are good at hiding their distress until it is too late. Thus, regular check-ups with your vet is important and recommended for domestic rabbits to spot the problems early on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why are rabbits’ teeth so different?

Rabbit teeth plays an important part for their digestive system. They are designed for chomping and chewing. Rabbits are herbivores and they tend to eat rough grass and hay. Their incisors, molars and premolars help in chewing down the foods.

2. Do rabbit bite people when scared?

Yes, they can bite in defense and the bites are pretty painful. Their incisors can pierce through the human skin easily. If the bite bleeds excessively and starts showing signs of infection, visit your doctor for medical help.

3. Are rabbit bite poisonous?

Rabbits’ bite can get infected and may need medical help. Although, rabbit bites are not dangerous, infection can be a cause of concern, if immediate treatment is not received. Wash the rabbit bite clean and apply OTC antibiotic ointments to curb the infection.

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