Did you know that rabbits are one of the few animals with teeth that never stop growing? It’s true! And that’s why it’s important to know how to care for rabbit teeth before you bring home a new bunny.
If a rabbit’s teeth are left to grow, your bunny's teeth can cause sores in their mouths which can inhibit their ability to eat. In fact, if not cared for appropriately, your rabbit could die from starvation.
The good news is, once you understand a bit more about how to care for rabbit teeth, you can be proactive in their care.
Here are some tips on how to best care for your bunny's chompers:
How Rabbits Care for Their Teeth in the Wild
Like all teeth, rabbit teeth need to be cared for and maintained.
But what happens if they don’t have a loving human to ensure they’re taken care of…like when they’re in the wild?
According to VCA animal hospitals, "A significant contributing factor [to dental disease in rabbits] is a diet lacking in enough roughage or fiber to promote normal tooth wear. Wild rabbits grind down their teeth all day by chewing constantly on grass."
As you know, rabbits have never met a vegetable they didn't like. In the wild, they eat vegetation so they can glean the most nutrients possible. But these veggies aren’t just tasty and nutritious, they also serve another purpose: the roughage can clean your rabbit's teeth naturally.
In other words, wild rabbits eat grasses and vegetation to keep their teeth in prime condition. No human necessary.
You may be wondering…
“Aren’t rabbit pellets supposed to be a complete solution? Do I need to supplement hay to help keep my rabbit’s teeth in check?”
The answer is, yes, absolutely.
If you've recently bought yourself a new rabbit, the first thing your vet is going to tell you is to pay attention to their teeth. And you'll hear it from us too, again and again, because your rabbit's teeth are so important for not only eating and chewing but also for overall health.
With that being said, rabbits are still wild animals (at heart) and have a tendency to avoid routine dental work from their owners, and that’s why we're here to help guide and educate on how to care for your rabbit's teeth to ensure fresh breath, shiny pearly white bunny smiles, and good overall health.
How to Care for Rabbit Teeth
Implement a Dental Plan
When you first bring your bundle of bun home, it’s important to establish a dental plan. And the sooner you do, the better.
Rabbits aren’t big fans of opening wide and saying “ahhhhh.”
They actually prefer that you leave their toofers alone…and they’ll fight you at all costs to ensure you can’t see inside (unless you start checking their teeth when they’re babies). If exposed to gentle mouth handling at a young age, your rabbits will be fine with regular at-home exams.
Plan to assess your rabbit’s teeth at least once a month to catch any changes and to make handling a regular occurrence.
When examining your rabbit’s teeth, look for rot and decay, but mostly watch for overgrown teeth and sores in your rabbit’s mouth. Teeth that have become too long will not line up, making it difficult to chew food.
Other indicators that your rabbit’s teeth are too long are:
- Visible teeth when the rabbit’s mouth is closed
- Weight loss
- Sores in the mouth
- Situations in which your rabbit gets her teeth caught on the cage.
- Front teeth that appear to curl away from one another
The good news is, if rabbit teeth become overgrown, they can be fixed. Vets are able to trim overgrown teeth by cutting the teeth as though they were trimming a human toenail…and it doesn’t hurt your rabbit.
With that being said, it’s much more stressful to have a rabbits teeth trimmed by a vet than it is to simply provide fresh hay and chew toys (so your rabbit can manage their molars naturally).
Provide Fresh Hay
One of the easiest ways to prevent a rabbit’s teeth from overgrowing is to provide them with fresh timothy hay.
Not only will your bun love the roughage to chomp and play with it, but the hay will also provide important nutrition and a way to grind down those ever-growing teeth.
Remember, in the wild, rabbits manage their teeth by eating roughage, fresh vegetation, and chewing on natural elements. So, if you have a wooden cage without a chewing solution, you can expect to replace your cage fairly often.
Give Your Bunny Chew Toys
Luckily, pet food and toy manufacturers make plenty of chew-friendly toys for rabbits (so you can save your shoes). They’re usually made out of natural materials that are safe for your rabbit to chew on and sometimes consume.
You can also recycle some of your own waste, such a paper towel rolls, cardboard, and otherwise for your rabbit to chew on. If you go this route, be sure you’re using safe, ink-free, products. If you’re not sure if it’s safe for the environment, then your bunny shouldn’t have access.
Lastly, you can also find yummy sticks, bark, and pruned bushes to bring to your rabbit. Remember, rabbits love the outdoors, so bringing it to them makes for some very happy bun-buns. Just be sure you’ve researched the greenery you’re giving to your rabbit to ensure it’s safe for them to eat.
How Much Hay Should I Give My Rabbit?
Your rabbit should always have access to fresh timothy hay, it should make up 75 - 80% of her diet to help keep her teeth healthy as well as aid in digestion. That way, your fluff-bottom can decide when it’s time for dental care…and get her daily roughage at the same time.