Loose teeth, congenital deformities, or incorrectly growing pearles can lead to health problems in rabbits. In many cases, the cause of dental problems can be traced back to improper diet.
Rabbit teeth grow continuously but are usually abraded by chewing. However, if the rabbit is given predominantly low-fiber feed (too little hay and green fodder), the teeth no longer wear off properly and continue to grow unhindered. Injuries to the oral mucosa are the result.
In some rabbits, a genetically too short upper jaw is responsible for this unhindered tooth growth. If the bite is wrong and the teeth do not meet correctly, they often grow crooked or become too long. Sometimes the so-called bridging occurs: The rabbit’s teeth grow together over the tongue. This makes it difficult or impossible to eat.
This is How You Recognize Dental Problems in Rabbits
If your rabbit refuses to feed or if there is increased salivation, dental problems can be the cause.
If the rabbit’s loss of appetite is already affecting its weight – i.e. if it is losing a lot – this is a clear warning signal. If the weight loss is gradual, you may not even notice the weight loss. Many veterinarians, therefore, recommend regular weighing of the animals in order to keep an overview.
With some rabbits, especially if the dental problems have genetic reasons, regular veterinary treatments are unfortunately necessary. Teeth need to be ground down to avoid gum inflammation, abscesses, and other injuries. Because rabbits can be sensitive to stress, the majority of these treatments are only performed under anesthesia. Of course, many of the necessary measures are also painful for the animal, so it should not be conscious during this time.
Abscesses in the Jaw Area
Unfortunately, dental problems often have painful consequences. Many rabbits are prone to jaw abscesses. This is an encapsulated collection of pus, caused by a previous inflammation. So that this does not spread in the body, a kind of protective layer forms around it, and an abscess capsule is created. Of course, abscesses can occur anywhere on the body, not just in the jaw area – then the cause can be, for example, an unnoticed bite wound.
First Signs of an Abscess and Diagnosis by the Veterinarian
Swelling in the rabbit’s head area often indicates an abscess, in some cases, the animal’s face appears asymmetrical. The eyes can also become more prominent due to an abscess. Some long-eared ears even stop eating because of pain.
At the veterinarian’s office, the diagnosis can be made with an X-ray, but a blood test can also provide information about the inflammation values. An X-ray also tells the vet how far the inflammation has spread.
Puncturing the area where the abscess is suspected can also provide information. The vet takes a sample from the swelling, which can usually be identified as pus by the smell.
Treatment of Abscesses in the Jaw Area
There are several ways to treat an abscess. Ideally, the entire abscess capsule can be surgically removed. Then the rabbit just needs to be given an antibiotic. If a tooth is responsible for the abscess, for example, because it has grown into the jaw, the culprit must also be removed in any case.
Unfortunately, if the abscess is in an unfortunate place, a complete removal is often not possible. In this case, the veterinarian will have to split the abscess. He cuts open the capsule and removes the pus. Since the rabbit horse is very tough, the abscess cavity must then be rinsed thoroughly.
This treatment is much more time-consuming and uncomfortable for rabbits and owners than complete removal, but it often cannot be prevented. In some cases, if the wound cavity is very large, the veterinarian may need to place a drain to drain the pus and wound fluid. After splitting, the abscess must be repeatedly opened and rinsed until it is completely healed. The administration of an antibiotic is also essential for this treatment.
In order to at least save your rabbit the stress of repeated visits to the vet, you can also rinse the abscess cavity yourself. However, you should have your vet show you the process beforehand.
Checklist: what you can do to prevent dental problems in your rabbit
- Pay attention to a species-appropriate diet that supports and promotes the grinding of the teeth;
- Feeds fresh grass and lots of coarse hay;
- Also offers fresh, crunchy vegetables (without bulbs, legumes, and most types of cabbage);
- Refrains from feed, which mainly consists of dry pellets.
A healthy and balanced diet not only helps prevent dental problems in your rabbits, but it also contributes to the general health of the long-eared rabbits. Therefore, find out about the right rabbit nutrition and the framework conditions for species-appropriate housing before purchasing.
Even if you have no influence on genetic dental problems, you can contribute to the health of your rabbit and avoid rabbit diseases by taking a responsible attitude.