We recently had to accept Dylan back in to our network.  He had been one of the younger rabbits from the case of 14 rabbits rescued back at Easter time and was very quickly snapped up for adoption.

As with all our rabbits Dylan was neutered and vaccinated with one of our vet practices, and was given a clean bill of health prior to adoption.

Shortly after adoption his new owner’s vet completed a further health check and advised his owner that tooth spurs had developed.  His new owner accepted this advice and was unwilling to support the costs involved in caring for him with his dental condition and insisted that we take Dylan back into our rescue network.

We have had one of our vets at Apex Vets in Denny review Dylan’s case.  Apex are highly skilled with treatment of dental problems with rabbits and as well as using traditional approaches they are one of only a few vet practices with the skills and equipment to allow conscious dental treatment of rabbits.  Conscious dentals allow reduced stress for the rabbit and avoid the risk of general anaesthesia associated with any rabbit operation.

Our preference though is always to avoid any intervention if we feel that the spurs are very minor and where we feel a change to diet may control the spurs before any irritation or damage can be done.

Our vet has examined Dylan again and has confirmed that in his opinion Dylan does not have any issue with his teeth that requires any surgical attention.  He has identified a few very minor spurs which are likely to be from Dylan’s poor diet historically, but his advice has been that this should be managed through diet control, in particular by ensuring a high hay intake to help grind the teeth naturally.

Rabbits teeth continually grow and various factors are at play to the condition of their teeth.  The main issue is one of diet, and in particular a low-hay diet is likely to result in dental problems.  As we rescue each rabbit we will work hard on improving a rabbit’s diet to ensure we can minimise such damage.  For example, Dylan had previously been on a diet of rabbit muesli which has been proven to be detrimental to the health of a rabbits teeth (see the Dick Vet’s recent research results).  On entering the network we carefully migrated him to a hay diet with nugget supplement and believe that this will naturally resolve any dental problems Dylan may have.

On occasions genetic deformities created through irresponsible breeding techniques can sometimes mean that a rabbit will suffer from continued teeth problems regardless of how good their diet is.  In such circumstances it is not unheard of for these rabbits to need dental procedures as often as every few weeks, and in some cases removal of some of the teeth may be recommended.

Dental problems in rabbits is very common due to a lack of awareness of the correct diet, and a large number of the rabbits in the rescue service do require dental procedures prior to being ready for adoption.  Where surgical intervention is required, it is a costly procedure.  We are aware, unfortunately, of some vet practices opting for surgical intervention at a very early stage, when diet control would still be a realistic alternative.  If your vet advises your rabbit needs a dental and you are unsure, do not hesitate to get a second opinion or do further research.  Anaesthesia is always risky for a rabbit and whilst we always recommend ensuring your rabbits teeth are healthy, this is not a procedure you want your rabbit to go through unnecessarily either.  Gaining a second opinion may allow you to make the right decision on what will be best for your rabbit.

There are some obvious signs of dental issues to look out for too, which can give you additional comfort to support your vet’s recommendation.  Look out for lumps on the jaw line, drooling, weeping eyes, changes in food preferences or generally going off their food.  Front teeth are also easy to check yourself at home – clamp your rabbit between your knees on the floor, facing forward, lean over him and gently pull his lips back into a smile.  The picture to the right shows what the front teeth should look like.

Now that Dylan’s teeth have been fully checked and his diet has been resolved, we are of the opinion that the chances of dental issues recurring is relatively low for him.

However, we cannot guarantee this for Dylan or any of our rabbits.  Whilst we do everything in our power to ensure that rabbits are in full health at the time of their adoption, a sad fact of rabbit ownership is the delicate nature of their health which can deteriorate rapidly.  Search our site for further advice on keeping a very close eye on your rabbits health for early warning indicators.

If you think you could offer Dylan a permanent home, and let him settle with a new buddy, please do get in touch.

Rabbit dental treatment can be very expensive!  Insure your rabbit today and avoid large vet bills.