Most rabbits have the same number of teeth as most humans — 28 to be precise. But the way they are lined up is very different. Because good teeth are so vital to good rabbit health, the following information about bunny dental details could help save your rabbit’s life. Lorrie Shaw, writing for annarbor.com has assembled some very useful information about rabbits and their teeth. Here are some highlights:
The incisors — two on the top and two on the bottom — are the most visible teeth and are the ones that can do the most damage. Designed to grasp food and graze it apart, incisors also grab and cut a lot of other things that shouldn’t be within reach — like electrical cords and such.
Peg teeth are right behind the incisors and seldom have problems.
Their back teeth, called molars (or cheek teeth), are harder to see. They grind down the hay and vegetables to an optimal size for digestion. In healthy rabbits, they grind their molars to maintain the proper length. (Cheek teeth can develop spurs; these sharp, spiny growths can be painful.)
Aside from spurs, malocclusion is a common issue in bunnies — especially dwarf breeds — because of the higher incidence of congenital deformities in the mouth. Malocclusion, simply defined is when teeth that don’t meet and wear properly, allowing the teeth to overgrow and be in need of frequent trimming. Normally, a bunny’s teeth match up perfectly, and are kept ground down by the simple action of chewing.
Malocclusion can make eating and drinking difficult, and can cause other health problems like intrusion of the teeth into the roof of the mouth and into tender skin on the face.
Prolonged problems can lead to serious illness and death.
The good news is, that with regular physical exams by a clinician who has experience with rabbits, and vigilance on the part of their owners, problems can be kept in check making for a healthy, happy companion animal.
Aside from regular exams, understanding that changes in a rabbit’s behavior or habits can be a sign of trouble with dentition, like:
- Withdrawing from usual activities/interests; grouchiness or aggression
- Drooling; wetness around the mouth
- Swelling, warmth or signs of pain at the jawline or under chin
- Change in food preference; usually going from harder to softer foods
- Showing interest in food, but not eating
- Weight loss
- Bad odor coming from the mouth
To read the complete article, please go to: http://www.annarbor.com/pets/bunnies-rabbits-mouth-teeth-oral-health-pets-malocclusion-chewing/
One of the best things you can do to ensure bunnies don’t have dental problems is make sure they always have lots of hay to eat. Fresh grasses and dandelion greens also help. One warning: if you go out and cut long grass in a public place, such as a park or a vacant lot, it’s best to wash them just in case a dog might have “watered” the area. The smell of the urine of a predator can be very frightening to rabbits.
Photo courtesy of Carly and Art