Rabbits are one of the top animals that many people prefer to keep as pets because of their small size. These lagomorphs also don't have high attention needs, such as dogs and cats. This is why you can enjoy a rabbit's companionship without taking much stress. However, that does not mean that rabbits don't require any attention at all. You still have to care for the pet and follow its routine carefully for various reasons. For instance, rabbits are more susceptible to malocclusion than other animals. So if you have been looking for more information about rabbits and malocclusion, your search ends now. Here is everything you need to know about these lagomorphs and their connection to this dental disease.
Understanding Rabbit Teeth
Before we dive into the specifics of rabbits and malocclusion, you must understand the teeth of this animal. A top feature of rabbits is that they have 28 teeth, out of which six are incisors while 22 are molars. You should also note that molars are sometimes called cheek teeth.
A rabbit uses its incisors for grabbing and biting different food items quickly. Meanwhile, molars help your pet chew and grind the large chunks into small pieces. This allows the rabbit to make the digestion process easier and faster.
Another thing to note is that four incisors are at the top of the rabbit's mouth. You will find two on the front and the other two right behind them. Meanwhile, the animal also has a pair of incisors on the bottom. The molars remain on the back of the mouth just like they do in us humans.
Typically, when a rabbit is resting, the pair of incisors on the top and bottom should touch. However, the pet has to realign its jaw to meet the back molars when chewing food.
What Is Malocclusion In Rabbits?
The key thing to understand is that malocclusion is a dental disease that is related to overgrown teeth. It can also affect humans, but rabbits are more prone to it. This is because their teeth constantly grow throughout their lifecycle. You should also note that malocclusion is referred to as buck teeth by many people.
Your pet's top and bottom incisors become misaligned in this condition because of constant growth. This means that the teeth hinder the rabbit's molars from meeting while chewing food. As a result, the animal can face various issues and experience pain when at rest. The primary aim of the misalignment is to prevent the wearing down of teeth.
However, you should remember that it is essential for a rabbit's teeth to wear down. This is because they are continuously growing, which can lead to overgrowth. A malocclusion is also a form of overgrowth that occurs from the misalignment of the incisors.
Typically, the top pair of incisors will begin to grow inwards because of malocclusion. Meanwhile, the bottom ones will start to move outwards in this condition.
Causes Of Malocclusion In Rabbits
Here are top things that can cause your pet rabbit to suffer from mild to severe malocclusion:
Poor Dietary Habits
The primary thing that can lead to malocclusion in rabbits is poor dietary habits. Your rabbit may not be feeding well for various reasons leading to the nutrient deficit. For instance, the pet food you may be providing your rabbit may lack essential fibers.
Besides that, your rabbit may be having less food every day because of mood changes. The result of poor habits is that your pet does not have the suitable nutrients that cause its teeth to wear down. This means that they have higher chances of overgrowing and suffering from malocclusion.
A key feature of malocclusion in rabbits is that it can be inherited from parents. This is because the genes of this disease can be passed on from one generation to the next. This is one of the reasons why understanding your pet’s breed can help you.
Typically, dwarf rabbits with tiny heads are more susceptible to genetic malocclusion. However, keep in mind that the pet can also acquire it because of environmental and diet reasons.
Another fact you should remember is that malocclusion is the misalignment of the rabbit's incisors. This is why it can occur because of an injury caused by an accident or fight. The wound can affect the position of the incisors slightly or gravely.
Besides that, the disease can also happen if you keep your pet in a cage. This is because many rabbits have a habit of pulling the cage's wire to get out. The direct result of this is that the teeth alignment of your pet will be affected. If it is severe, your rabbit can suffer from acquired malocclusion.
Does your rabbit become sick frequently or suffer from a health issue? If so, you must be on alert for malocclusion at all times. This is because the disease onsets more easily in sick and weak pets.
The primary reason behind this is that ill rabbits cannot quickly wear down their teeth. This means that they experience more growth than normal rabbits. Eventually, an overgrowth can cause your pet to suffer from misalignment and other symptoms of malocclusion.
Why Is Malocclusion In Rabbits Bad?
The primary thing you should understand is that malocclusion is a disease that must be taken care of. Besides that, here are some other reasons that will help you understand the severity of this condition:
Can Lead To Jaw Infections
Malocclusion is a severe disease that can lead your rabbit to suffer from jaw infections. This can cause your pet to face discomfort at times. Besides that, it can also lead to unbearable pain if the condition is severe.
You should also note that the jaw infection can also affect other teeth and different body processes of your pet. For example, your rabbit may also refuse to eat because of the illness.
Your Pet Can Stop Eating
A key thing to note is that reading a rabbit's face can be tough for you as a pet owner. This is because they communicate mainly by using their ears. So you may be at a loss if you cannot understand the different rabbit ear positions.
This means that your rabbit may not show that it's in pain by facial expressions. Instead, you will have to read its ear positions to understand whether your pet is experiencing pain. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why many owners cannot detect malocclusion early.
Can Cause Digestive Disorders
The prime result of being in pain is that your rabbit will stop eating because of it. This can lead the pet to lose significant weight and face other health issues because of a lack of nutrition. For instance, your rabbit can suffer from various digestive disorders because of a lack of fibers.
You should keep in mind that a rabbit requires a continuous supply of fibers in its diet. Not only that, but even one day without roughage can lead to severe health disorders.
Signs Of Malocclusion In Rabbits
Are you wondering how you can know if your pet rabbit has malocclusion? Well, here are the top symptoms that will help you identify the disease:
The key feature of malocclusion is that it can prevent your pet from opening its mouth entirely. Unfortunately, this means that the rabbit cannot chew the food you give it correctly. As a result, the animal will suffer from improper digestion and various disorders.
However, the top thing about disorders is that they develop gradually and can be hard to detect. Luckily, there is one instant side-effect that can alert you of malocclusion. Your pet is most likely to suffer from diarrhea because of improper food chewing.
Malocclusion causes teeth overgrowth by preventing the regular wearing down of teeth in your rabbit. The result of this is that your rabbit will have long teeth with pointed ends. They are also sharp and cause severe damage to your pet's mouth.
Typically, the sharp ends dig into the soft tissue of your pet’s tongue and cheeks. This can cause the rabbit to suffer from ulcers that can be highly painful.
Your Pet Is Quiet
The top thing you should understand is that when a rabbit is in pain, it goes quiet instantly. You can notice this easily and detect it by reading your pet's ear positions. Typically, malocclusion can lead to high pain, especially when the teeth start damaging cheek and tongue tissue.
Besides that, your rabbit will also stop eating when it becomes silent. This is to avoid additional pain caused by food consumption. So you should watch for these two signs together when understanding whether your rabbit has malocclusion.
Typically, rabbits don't drool when playing, sleeping, or doing other tasks. This is why you should not consider the sign to be normal if you notice it in your pet. You can also understand whether your rabbit has been drooling or not by checking for some symptoms.
The top thing that will help you detect the symptom is wet fur. Besides that, hair loss around the chin and mouth also occurs because of drooling. So if you notice these things, you must be on alert for a disease such as malocclusion.
A common practice that you will notice in many rabbits is that they grind their teeth. Some breeds do this silently when they are happy or relaxed. However, rabbits also grind their teeth incisors to prevent overgrowth by wearing them.
Typically, grinding is not an alarming sign if your rabbit is doing it at an average pace. However, you must be wary when the pet indulges in excessive teeth grinding. The rabbit may be doing this to decrease pain and overgrowth caused by malocclusion.
How To Know If My Rabbit Has Malocclusion?
The primary way you can check for malocclusion is by viewing your rabbit's teeth carefully. You can notice the teeth alignment of the incisors to detect the disease easily. For instance, the top incisors growing inwards signify this dental condition.
However, keep in mind that detecting malocclusion can be tough if it primarily affects the molars. This is because the back teeth are difficult to view in rabbits. So the best option to know if your pet has malocclusion is by taking it to a vet.
Vets have the right expertise to detect dental diseases such as malocclusion easily. The best part is that the physician will also offer you suitable treatment options.
Treatment Of Malocclusion In Rabbits
Here are the key things that will help you treat your rabbit suffering from malocclusion:
As we said earlier, poor diet is one of the leading causes of malocclusion. Luckily, this factor is easy to control by changing the food and formulas you provide to your pet. For instance, you can invest in high-quality rabbit food that contains all the essential nutrients.
The top nutrient that your pet rabbit requires is roughage/fiber. So you should ensure that the food you feed the animal meets the daily percentage. This will promote the wearing down of teeth easily and prevent overgrowth. You should also avoid feeding your rabbit pellets because it decreases the volume of food your pet consumes.
Trimming Of Incisors
Many rabbits require incisor trimming because of fast-growing teeth. Typically, you should take your pet regularly to the veterinarian. The expert can check the teeth and tell you if the animal requires trimming.
The best part is that vet can easily trim the teeth during the appointment. So you don’t have to worry about getting the service from an external pet grooming service provider.
If the malocclusion is severe, your rabbit may require surgery for teeth removal. Typically, your vet will suggest this if an abscess starts building up in your pet's teeth pockets. Besides that, this may be your only option if your rabbit cannot bear the pain.
This is your complete guide to rabbits and malocclusion. The disease can occur in any breed because of genetic or external reasons. The good news is that the condition is treatable, and your vet can help you with it.