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Rabbit Oral Health: An important aspect to maintaining your rabbits health

After watching some rabbits chewing their food recently, it got me to thinking about whether rabbits tend to need any kind of oral care to keep those teeth strong and functional.

I did not know much about this area and did a little research into this topic.  I will share what I have learned.

Rabbits are chewers, using their teeth in many ways.  They use their teeth not only to ingest their high-fiber diet, but also to express frustration or happiness or pain, remodel their environment, groom themselves and explore new situations.

There is actually a lot we can do to help keep these important “tools” in good shape.  Problems that often occur in the oral cavity include malocclusion of the incisor teeth.  What is malocclusion?

Malocclusion-- when teeth don’t meet and wear properly.  When malocclusion occurs the teeth will overgrow and need frequent trimming.  Most cases of incisor malocclusion are hereditary and will show themselves before 6 months of age. Consult with your vet if your rabbit has that problem.

So, how can you check the incisors to determine if you have this issue?  The incisors are located at the front of the jaw and are easy to see and examine.

With your rabbit either on her back or sitting facing away from you, gently part her lips to make her “smile.”  If she is sitting use your body to prevent her from backing up.  The four large teeth you see (2 top and 2 bottom) are her incisor teeth.  Also, check to see that they are not loose and that the gum tissue is healthy pink (not red or purple). 

If malocclusion allows food or hair to collect around teeth, you can keep infection at bay by using the smallest size baby tooth brush to remove the accumulated debris.

The rabbit’s grinding teeth (also called cheek teeth) are too far back in the mouth to be easily checked, but you can watch for secondary signs of cheek tooth pain such as:

  • Drooling or wetness around the mouth
  • Swelling, warmth at jawline
  • Weight loss
  • Grinding teeth
  • Grumpy behavior
  • Bad odor from the mouth

Think about creating a safe chewing environment.  Offer plenty of approved and safe chewing objects such as cardboard, wood, dried pinecones and straw mats.  Exclude your rabbit from dangerous areas such as where electrical wires run or phone cords.  Pick up small objects that can lodge in rabbit’s mouth, such as rubber bands, needles, twist-ties and paper clips.

Healthy teeth are so important to maintaining your rabbit’s health.

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Posted on 7/27/2016 by Amy Brown  |   Category: Rabbit


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