Tooth care for rabbits: preventing dental disease

Unlike human teeth, rabbit teeth grow constantly throughout their life. Because of this, rabbits need to spend lots of their time nibbling and chewing to wear their teeth down.

If they don’t wear down naturally, rabbits’ teeth grow too long and start to grow sharp spikes, which dig into their tongue and cheeks. This causes painful mouth ulcers.

Signs that your rabbit might have dental problems

If your rabbit is having trouble with their teeth they might:

  • Go off their food
  • Dribble - you'll notice a wet patch around their mouth and chin
  • Lose weight
  • Get runny eyes - overgrown tooth roots can affect your rabbit's eyes
  • Get a dirty bottom - a sore mouth makes licking and grooming too painful for your rabbit.

What to do if your rabbit has dental problems

The most important thing to do is speak to your vet.

Your rabbit may need to have their teeth trimmed and the vet can also check back teeth for sharp spurs. These are very painful and can cut into the tongue as well as making it difficult to eat. These spurs can be removed with a rasp.

Don’t delay if you are worried about your rabbit not eating. They need to eat regularly to stay healthy and can become ill very quickly if they stop eating.

How to stop your rabbit from having trouble with their teeth

There can be other causes of overgrown teeth (e.g. if a rabbit is born with teeth that don’t meet properly) but the commonest cause is their diet. Muesli style rabbit food is a major cause of dental problems as it doesn’t naturally wear down their teeth. It’s much better to feed your rabbits a natural diet packed with plenty of hay.

Read our vets advice on the best diet for your rabbit and how to switch them onto a better diet if they’re on muesli style food.