Teeth

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Healthy rabbit teeth

Rabbit teeth grow at approximately 2 mm per week and require a constant supply of calcium.[1]

Dental problems

The exact cause of dental disease in rabbits is unclear, although it is likely to be multifactorial and involve the following:[2]

  • Inadequate teeth wear due to insufficient coarse fiber in the diet.
  • Nutritional deficiency, including calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, magnesium and protein.
  • Genetic disposition—Netherland Dwarfs and lop-eared rabbits with flat faces seem to be especially susceptible.

How can I help prevent dental disease in my rabbits?

Some tips include the following:[1]

  • Ensure growing rabbits have sufficient calcium and vitamin D. Growing rabbits are most susceptible to metabolic bone disease. Calcium should be 0.5—1.0% of the diet to provide sufficient calcium for the mineralization of growing teeth and surrounding bone.
  • Provide unlimited fibrous foods such as grass and hay. Hay should be of a good quality. Calcium in poor-quality hay can be as low as 0.25% which is lower than the 0.44% dietary requirement for bone mineralization.
  • Feed at least 3 types of fruits or vegetables a day, including one type of fibrous vegetable such as broccoli, cabbage, spring greens, spinach or cauliflower leaves. Root vegetables and fruit, such as carrots and apples, are poor sources of calcium and should only be used as treats.
  • Do not allow rabbits to select low calcium cereals legumes from muesli pellet mixtures. Palatable extruded or pelleted diets are preferable as they prevent selective feeding. High calcium supplements should be avoided due to the risk of urine sludging.[1]

Drooling

The medical term for drooling is ptyalism.

See the links below for more information about drooling in rabbits.

Malocclusion

Main article: Malocclusion
Do Rabbit Teeth Need to Be Trimmed?

Malocclusion occurs when a rabbit's teeth do not meet each other properly. See the main article for more details.

Molar spurs

"This is what every vet needs to show a rabbit owner instead of just saying 'there are a few tiny spurs.' I never knew exactly what was involved with spurs that couldn't be seen with a vet looking in the bunny's mouth." - Dental rabbits resources, on Facebook.

A good picture of what dental spurs look like in a rabbit that will require filing aka "floating" can be seen here.

Some more specific resources:

Feeding methods

Rabbits with dental problems often struggle to eat foods that require chewing such as hay and pellets. Because it is imperative that rabbits constantly have food moving throughout their gut, mashes of rabbit-safe foods are a good way to help rabbits voluntarily eat rather than force-feeding food such as Critical Care.

Lisa Hodgson created the following mash recipes:[3]

Carrot Crush (can be syringe fed)

  • 1 large peeled tomato
  • 1 10cm piece of carrot
  • 1 4cm piece of broccoli
  • 1 4cm piece of cauliflower
  • 2 springs of parsley
  • 5 mL of water

Green Dream (can be syringe fed)

  • 1 small leaf kale
  • 2 small leaves of pak choi (bok choy)
  • 2 sprigs of coriander
  • 2 sprigs of mint
  • 1 4cm piece of broccoli
  • 1 3cm piece of cucumber
  • 15 mL of water

Banana Brunch

  • 1 8cm piece of banana
  • 10 Tbsp of oat bran
  • 15 mL of water

Bran Bliss

  • 1 8cm piece of carrot
  • 3 sprigs of coriander
  • 10 Tbsp of oat bran

Blend ingredients for 10 to 20 seconds or until consistency is smooth. If texture looks dry add a little more water.

Note: New foods should always be introduced gradually. These recipes are a supplement and should only be given as part of a healthy diet. Oat bran is not suitable for overweight rabbits as it may cause weight gain.

Kathy Smith noted the following experience and recipe:[3]

My intuition told me to offer her (via syringe) some of the smoothie I was making for myself every day. I now add 2-3 teaspoons of this to about 1/2 cup softened Kaytee Rainbow Exact and give to her every day:

  • 1 cup of apple juice (no sugar added)
  • 2-3 handfuls of fresh blueberries
  • 12 large or 15 medium strawberries
  • 2 small-to-medium bananas
  • 12-15 ice cubes

Blend on "smoothie" setting until... smooth.

Pat Vanecek suggested this homemade Critical Care recipe:[4]

  • 1/4 of a banana
  • 1/8 cup regular rabbit food pellets
  • 1/4 cup unflavored Pedialyte
  • 1/8 cup canned pumpkin
  • options: rabbit vitamins, hay (can clog syringe) , calf manna, uncooked oatmeal (not quick), molasses

Blend in blender until smooth and thin enough to syringe feed. Additional Pedialyte added will thin to a baby food paste consistency. Place syringe behind front teeth and squeeze a pea-sized portion into rabbit’s mouth. Allow to chew and swallow between bites. Feed 1 cc, 2 to 3 times per day until rabbit begins to eat normally. Keep ingredients on hand at all times. From Bunnybees.com

Extra resources

Further reading

Here are some videos to watch about rabbit teeth.

Debbie Hanson, Dental exam

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Varga, M. (2013). Textbook of rabbit medicine. (2nd ed.).
  2. Keeble, E & Meredith, A. (2006). Rabbit medicine & surgery: Self-assessment color review.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Moore, L. (2013). Rabbit nutrition and nutritional healing. (2nd ed.).
  4. Pat Vanecek. (2015). Caring for Rabbit Kits. Retrieved 13 August, 2015, from http://www.bunnyrabbit.com/Newsletter/bunnyrabbitcom_articles/caringBabyKits.htm