How to keep your rabbit’s teeth clean and healthy
Dental hygiene is a key part of caring for any pet, and it’s especially important for rabbit owners.
It’s easy to assume that your rabbit’s teeth stop growing once they reach a certain age, like a cat or dog. So it might come as a surprise that a certain furry friend’s teeth grow weekly. That’s right. Rabbit teeth grow constantly throughout their life, and can keep growing to problematic lengths if they don’t wear down naturally.
From mouth ulcers to poor overall health, there are a number of side effects of not caring for your rabbit’s teeth so it’s important to keep them clean, healthy and at a good length. It can be relatively simple, and a regular routine will ensure your rabbit is comfortable and nibbling happily from the day they join your family!
The causes of dental health issues in rabbits
As your rabbit’s teeth will continuously grow, it’s crucial that you take care of their teeth to ensure they’re healthy and happy. They can grow up to 12cm a year, so if they’re left to grow unchecked it can cause all sorts of problems. In fact, overgrown teeth are the main cause of dental disease in rabbits.
You’ve probably noticed that your rabbit is almost always chewing or nibbling. This helps them keep their teeth at a safe length, so providing them with plenty of chewable foods and treats goes a long way to preventing tooth-related issues.
If your rabbit’s front teeth become overgrown it can cause a condition called malocclusion, which is a result of the bottom and top teeth not meeting properly.
The back teeth can change shape, becoming sharper and rubbing against the tongue which will cause a lot of discomfort for your furry friend. If malocclusion is left untreated, all of the teeth will eventually be impacted and can result in life threatening abscesses.
It’s also good to be aware of any dental problems your rabbit had at birth.
Signs of dental issues
So what should you look out for? Dental issues in rabbits can be more difficult to spot than they are in cats and dogs so you’ll need to pay close attention to spot any symptoms.
There are a number of things to watch out for that might indicate dental disease in a rabbit, including:
- A lack of appetite
- Facial swelling
- Dropping food
- Weight loss
Simple ways to keep your rabbit’s teeth healthy
There are some really easy ways to ensure your rabbit’s teeth are well cared for and healthy. Check their mouth regularly if you can – your rabbit will have a small mouth and might be a bit reluctant to let you take a close look, so if you’re finding it difficult to do a thorough check yourself, speak to your vet.
Giving your rabbit plenty of hay and fresh grass will mean they have plenty to chew on. Supplement your rabbit’s diet with a small amount of leafy greens and pellets too. Not only is this a good way to keep their teeth in check, but it will also support your rabbit’s overall health and wellbeing.
A nutrient deficit can contribute to poor dental health, so be sure to speak to your vet if you need more advice on the best food for your rabbit.
Phil’s top tips:
- Check your rabbit’s teeth each week to keep on top of their dental hygiene. Your vet will be able to help you see their back teeth, but a simple and quick regular check will indicate if your rabbit is having issues.
- Introduce a little something extra for your rabbit to chew from time to time, such as fresh branches or fruit, such as slices of apple.
- Did you know that there are lots of different toys that can double as chews? The Rosewood Naturals Hay n Hide Gnaw Tube is a great option for rabbits who love to play!