Small Mammals

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Dental Disease

Dental disease in small mammals such as rabbits is a very common problem and can lead to infections, anorexia and pain.

The main reasons for teeth problems are genetics (breeding has lead to changes in skull shape and therefore, teeth alignment) and diet.

Many commercial pellet foods break down easily in the mouth and so leave little work for the teeth to do and as a result, the teeth have little opportunity to wear down naturally. Also because pellet food is a very concentrated source of nutrients in a small volume– rabbits do not spend anywhere near the length of time chewing their food as their wild counterparts do.

You should feed your rabbits a diet of unlimited good quality grass hay. In addition to this, a variety of raw fresh leafy green vegetables should also be fed daily. A natural diet has both dental and other health benefits. It is important to avoid feeding a diet exclusively of commercial pellets. It is also advisable to offer other items for your rabbit to chew on. Good examples include untreated wood pieces, fresh tree branches and untreated wicker baskets. This will help to ensure adequate wear of the teeth.

It is important for a vet to examine your rabbit’s teeth every year. Problems discovered with the incisor and cheek teeth should be dealt with promptly before more severe problems develop such as abscesses which can affect the jaw bones and in serious cases even lead to death.