Animals – Recognizing dental problems in rabbits – Society

Bichl/Heilbronn (dpa/tmn) – When rabbits are sick, they often secretly suffer for a long time: “As predators, they are very good at hiding diseases,” says veterinarian Cecilia Seidl. For hares, a weak animal means a danger to the whole group – sick animals are excluded to protect the clan.

House rabbits behave in a similar way: they hide the symptoms of the disease as much as possible. “By the time you see obvious symptoms in your rabbit, the disease is often very advanced and you need to act quickly.”

For many owners, dental problems are a surprising discovery when one of their animals suddenly does not eat well or has problems with digestion. Anyone who knows the signs can track down dental problems as soon as possible: “It could be because an animal has so much saliva, that the fur around the little mouth is sticky or even sticky,” Seidl says. In the case of severe problems, the entire breast can be sticky with saliva.

Eating behavior can also give an indication of dental problems: it is noticeable, for example, if an animal prefers soft lettuce to raw, high-fiber hay, which must be chewed a lot. “Some dental patients come rushing to feed them, but when they start eating, they chew a leaf for what feels like an eternity or even fall out of their mouths without chewing,” the vet says. Weight loss can also indicate dental problems.

Do not feed the pellets

If you want to prevent dental problems, you should pay special attention to proper nutrition. Rabbit teeth grow throughout life. So it is important to wear it regularly. “The dental material is very hard,” Seidl says. Therefore, the only thing where the teeth can wear out is the contact of the teeth with the teeth.

“There is a persistent myth that teeth wear out on hard bread or sticks.” But this is not true – instead, they have a negative effect on teeth and digestion.

According to the veterinarian, optimal nutrition consists of fresh green forage, rich in species. Hay should always be available to animals. Meadowsweet herbs such as dandelion, plantain, alfalfa and yarrow are suitable.

In addition, rabbits should be given fresh twigs from trees such as willows or fruit trees on a regular basis. Even in winter, outdoor animals should be given fresh food consisting of cabbage, sweet and bitter lettuce, herbs, and other leafy greens like spinach.

Granulated feed is unfavorable in several ways: chewing movements when crushing granules differ from lateral movements with grass, leafy greens or greens. So they hardly erode the teeth and can also put pressure on the teeth thus promoting inflammation. In addition, the pellets slow down the digestion process, swell up in the stomach and thus make you more full, thus rabbits eat less fresh food as a result.

Veterinarian Diana Ruff says that the majority of dental problems over a rabbit’s lifetime are related to feeding errors. In addition, there are breeds that are more prone to dental problems. “And these include rabbits with particularly short heads. Breeds like rams, which are prone to ear infections, also often have dental problems.” Because of the earache, many animals chew differently, which can affect the teeth.

Consult a qualified veterinarian

Diagnosing dental problems at the vet requires some practice: it is primarily important to choose a vet who is familiar with rabbits.

A trained vet can get a first impression by looking at the front and side incisors and the molars hidden at the back in the mouth. “As a rule, there are problems with the roots of the teeth, which is why an accurate diagnosis with the naked eye is not possible,” says Ruff.

The majority of the tooth, especially the root of the tooth, is hidden in the jaw. “That’s why you need imaging methods like special X-rays or high-resolution CT scans to diagnose teeth in rabbits.”

Because dental problems are only noticed later in many animals, treatment often takes a long time: “If multiple tooth roots are affected and the jawbone changes, these animals cannot be cured, but often can be managed well with targeted therapy for years,” Diana Rove says. Sometimes the teeth are extracted, sometimes the teeth are grinded again, often even several times. Similar to a good X-ray, these treatments are only possible under sedation.

Ideally, owners should check their rabbit’s incisors from the front and side once a week. The teeth should be smooth, shiny, and have no transverse grooves – but longitudinal grooves are normal. “The lower incisor should be behind the upper incisor.”

Rabbits have a second row of teeth with two pin teeth behind their upper incisors. This should be straight. “In addition, it makes sense to have a rabbit weighed weekly for early detection of dental disease,” advises Ruff. You should also feel your jawline once a week.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220411-99-882716 / 2

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