Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bunny care: Teeth

"I am bunny - hear me ROAR!"

You need to be on the alert as to when your bunny may not be feeling well. Part of this is knowing your bunny's personality, so you can tell when something is not quite right. Bunnies can get deathly ill very quickly. It's been posted before but is worth repeating: Bunnies are prey animals. They instinctively know that predators seek the weakest. Therefore, a sick bunny will expend all his energy trying to keep up the appearance of being a healthy rabbit. When they finally give in, they can go downhill rapidly. Here is a post with more about how to "Monitor your bunny's mood".

Some basic "healthy" signs include if they are:
1. Eating - remember that hay is the largest part of a bunny's diet, over 80%.
2. Drinking - a heavy crock type bowl that they can't tip over may encourage the bunny to drink more than a drip bottle. Plus, it's easier to keep the water fresh (fresh water at least daily). Here's a picture of this bowl.
3. Pooping and peeing normally, i.e., the usual round pellets (not runny or pinpoint small) and pee (e.g., you don't want to see white pee that may indicate the bunny is not getting enough to drink).

One reason a bunny may not be eating normally or eating slowly is pain in their teeth. Bunny teeth grow constantly and they have to wear them down by eating healthy and chewing your wood furniture and baseboards. There can be several misalignment problems with teeth; the cause might be congenital or it may be from an injury or infection.

When teeth do not line up correctly and are not treated, they may grow into the bunny's cheeks or gums. Even with the right diet and chew toys, it can happen. Some bunnies will need to have their teeth trimmed (or, in extreme cases, some may be removed). Checking your bunnies teeth should be part of a regular rabbit-savvy ("exotics") vet examination. Take your bunnies to the vet for at least an annual check-up and right away if you suspect any problem due to changes in their behavior or mood.

For more information, read this article from HRS: Oral Health in Rabbits

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