Rabbits are fun and loving pets, but it's important to look after their health, especially their teeth. They have four large, sharp incisors in the front and several cheek teeth that are designed for heavy chewing. Rabbit teeth are a lot like horse teeth in that they continuously grow and sometimes wear unevenly. This means that they will need a lot of attention. Without this attention, there may be serious complications.
Basic tooth care:
To keep your rabbit's teeth in the best shape possible between visits to the veterinarian, make sure your rabbit has a lot of safe, tough things to chew. If you only feed your rabbit pellets or lettuce, then try offering them something tougher, like carrots, for a treat. Rabbits in the wild regularly nibble on grasses, and you can substitute hay for those grasses. Keep fresh hay accessible at all times. Other things you can offer are wood blocks and safe branches, such as willow or apple-tree branches, among others.
Signs of trouble:
Rabbits can go a long time without showing any symptoms that something is wrong. Because they're prey animals, they hide illnesses and discomfort until things have gotten so bad that extreme measures must be taken. Signs of problems include large, sometimes visible, swellings around the jaw as well as a lack of appetite. Some rabbits show early signs such as excessive drooling or frothing around the mouth and poor grooming. They may begin to lose weight and seem tired or weak. If your rabbit is really hungry and interested in food but only takes a couple bites or doesn't eat at all, this may be because of tooth problems.
Prevention and treatment:
Even if you provide the best preventative care, your rabbit still needs a regular dental check from your veterinarian. If you've seen any signs that your rabbit's teeth are having problems, or if you feel or see an abscess, then you should take your rabbit in to see the doctor as soon as possible. Otherwise, they should have regular yearly checkups. If your rabbit shows signs of malocclusion, or misalignment of the biting surface, then they may need more frequent treatment. Unusual or uneven growth can be filed down, but only by a professional under anesthesia. Severe overgrowth and abnormalities will require surgery.
Your rabbit's teeth are extremely important, and because they grow rapidly, they need extra care and attention. If you take your rabbit to a rabbit veterinarian, such as one at Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic, he or she will know exactly what problems to look out for so you can get a quick and thorough diagnosis. That way you can keep your rabbit happy and healthy.