Follow these tips to keep your bunny’s teeth healthy.
Rabbits are known for their big and bright, healthy teeth. The state of them plays a big part in their overall health so it’s essential to keep them in good condition. In a bad state, their teeth can become extremely painful and make your pet miserable. Usually it’s their fast-growing teeth coupled with a bad diet that causes dental issues.
1. Feed them the right diet
- Rabbits’ teeth have evolved to become open-rooted, meaning they’re constantly growing because they continually wear down as a result of the tough and fibrous material they chew on.
- Feed them a healthy and high-fibre diet, which includes a variety of hay and grass. The different textures help to evenly wear out the teeth. Keep pellet food to a minimum or they’ll get too full and won’t eat grass and hay, which are essential.
- If they don’t get the right diet their teeth become too long and can cause painful problems.
2. Causes of dental problems
- If your rabbits’ front teeth do become overgrown they’ll be misaligned, which causes malocclusion, a condition where there is uneven pressure in the mouth and the roots are affected. Malocclusion is painful, but can be solved by trimming the tooth, or sometimes through extraction.
- Sometimes spurs (very sharp tooth edges) can form and cut into rabbits’ cheeks and tongues. Soft tissue abscesses can form if the cuts become infected.
3. Take them for biannual dental check-ups and check them yourself at home once a week
- The colour of the teeth should be creamy white, smooth and have a chisel-shaped bite at the end.
Look out for the following if you suspect your bunny’s teeth are in a bad state:
- Weight loss, drooling and bad breath.
- Not grooming properly, such as less frequent wash-and-brush-ups.
- Not eating, which is likely due to toothache.
- Discharge from the eyes, because a misalignment of teeth changes the shape of a rabbit’s skull, leading to blocked tear ducts.
- Faecal clagging around the back end.
- Overgrown incisors and lumps on the face.
COMPILED BY NOLWAZI DHLAMINI CONTRIBUTOR: MICHAEL FERREIRA PHOTOS: FOTOLIA.COM