Does your rabbit need orthodontic care? As curious as it may seem, dental malocclusion in rabbits is an important problem and is often under diagnosed.
The poor apposition of the teeth is one of the main causes of the loss of appetite in rabbits.
The origins of the malocclusion are multiple. We speak mainly of genetic causes, traumas and dental abscesses.
The diet of rabbits is very abrasive, which has the effect of wearing the teeth during chewing. To compensate for this wear, the teeth of rabbits grow continuously. The molars are aligned so that the wear surfaces are flat with sharp edges, allowing effective chewing of fibre. The teeth must be properly aligned to allow for proper wear of maxillary and mandibular teeth.
Rabbits with malocclusion usually exhibit excessive drooling, appetite and weight loss. Anorexia is frequently progressive. First, the animal stops eating its pellets, then its hay, then, finally its vegetables. Often the animal seems interested in its food. He even goes to put food in his mouth, to drop it shortly after. Owners often mention that these rabbits grind their teeth.
Loss of appetite should be addressed promptly in rabbits, because if it persists too long, it can become lethal.
To make a precise diagnosis, your veterinarian will often have to put your rabbit under anesthesia, especially if his mouth is full of saliva and a problem in the back teeth is suspected.
Depending on the type of problem, its origin and its location, treatments will be suggested. Some advanced cases can sometimes be relieved, but cannot be cured permanently. Some rabbits will require regular visits to their veterinarian.
So the best solution is prevention. Offer a rich fibre diet containing a large amount of hay, ideally Timothy as well as good leafy green vegetables.
Where possible, acquire the rabbit from a breeder who is known to produce animals free from malocclusion. And finally, after buying the rabbit, have it checked immediately by your veterinarian to make sure it is free from birth defects and infections.
If you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to contact a member of the medical team of the Clinic (514-634-4190) who will be happy to assist you.