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What is dental disease?

Dental disease is any condition that affects the normal growth, shape and use of the teeth. It is a common problem for pet rabbits and is caused by a number of factors. Unlike people, rabbit’s teeth continue to grow throughout life. Rabbits have evolved this way in order to cope with large amounts of roughage (grass and hay) in their diet, which wear down their teeth. Anything that imbalances this pattern of growth and wear may result in dental disease.

Dental disease is a very painful and progressive condition. It is important for your rabbit to have regular dental checks. We recommend six monthly visits for rabbits.

Why do rabbits get dental disease?


  • Provision of inappropriate diet: Feeding rabbits a high energy low roughage diet will result in inappropriate wear of their teeth.

  • Inadequate Vitamin D and Calcium: just like in people Vitamin D plays an important role in bone strength and calcium uptake from food.

  • Genetic factors: Some breeds are more prone to getting dental disease than other breeds.



Is there anything I can do to prevent my rabbit getting dental disease?

Feed your pet rabbits what their wild friends eat!


  • Feed your rabbit lots of good quality pasture hay such as timothy hay

  • Allow your rabbit to have regular exercise to help encourage strong bones

  • Ensure your rabbit has regular access to sunlight or a Vitamin D3 enriched pelleted food (Oxbow®).



What are the signs of dental disease in rabbits?

A healthy rabbit is bright and alert, grooms itself and has clean bottom. Droppings are a uniform size and shape. Rabbits should not carry extra weight or be underweight.

Rabbits with dental disease may show any of the following signs:


  • Diarrhoea or produce droppings of different sizes or less droppings than usual

  • Less active or quieter than normal

  • Loss in appetite or only eating soft foods

  • Poor condition and unkempt appearance

  • Drooling

  • Eye discharge

  • Weight loss

  • Swellings on the face

  • Increased sensitivity around the face

  • Obvious over growth of the incisors (front teeth)




I’m worried my rabbit might have dental disease, what should I do?

The best thing to do is to contact us and book an appointment for your pet rabbit. Rabbits tend to hide signs of illness so when we notice they are unwell we need to act fast.

How can we help your rabbit?

We will assess your rabbit’s needs by performing a full physical exam, which provides information on their general health status. Our vet will then have a look inside your rabbit’s mouth to check all of the teeth. As dental disease is very painful, your rabbit might not let the vet see all the teeth at this time. We may suggest a dental procedure under anaesthesia for your rabbit. Dental treatment can be performed at the same time. X-rays are often required to view all the teeth roots and assess which teeth may need extraction.

What special care is required for my rabbit after a dental procedure?

It is very important to keep a close watch of your rabbit following a procedure to check if they are eating, drinking, toileting and behaving as they normally would. If this is not happening you need to contact our vet and arrange to have your rabbit examined.

Following dental procedures, your rabbit may need support feeding. For this we recommend Oxbow Critical Care®, fed as directed on the label whilst still offering your rabbit its regular food until it is eating normally again. Do not change your rabbit’s diet when they are recovering from a dental procedure. Encouraging them to begin eating normally is best done with foods which are familiar to them.

We will suggest more regular dental check-ups for any rabbits with dental disease.