Mouth pain in rabbits

isolated rabbits

Overview

  • Do you think you rabbit might have a painful mouth? Have they been grinding their teeth, rubbing their face, eating less than usual or losing weight?
  • The most common cause of a painful mouth is dental disease; but there are many other possible causes.
  • If your rabbit has a painful mouth, they may stop eating, which can very quickly, cause serious problems.
  • Contact your vet for an appointment ASAP, they will use a special instrument to look inside and find out what’s causing the problem.

How to tell if your rabbit’s mouth is painful?

It’s may not always be easy to tell if your rabbits are in pain, because their natural instinct is to hide it (in the wild, a weak rabbit is an easy target). If your rabbit has a painful mouth, you may notice them showing some of these telltale signs:

  • Eating less
  • Drooling and saliva staining on the fur
  • Loud tooth grinding
  • Difficulty picking up food or chewing it
  • A mucky bottom and matted fur
  • Weight loss
  • Hiding away not wanting to be touched
  • A reduced number of pellets
  • Diarrhoea or soft faeces
  • Weepy eyes
  • A lumpy jaw line
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Bad breath.

Causes

Many things can cause a painful mouth, including:

  • Dental disease (tooth problems) - dental disease is common and can be very serious
  • Sores or ulcers - from chewing on something hard or irritating (e.g. electric wires) or something toxic
  • A growth in the mouth
  • An infection (stomatitis)
  • An injury after fighting
  • Something stuck inside their mouth.

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet immediately if you notice your rabbit has a sore mouth. If left too long, your rabbit might stop eating which can rapidly turn into a very serious problem. You know your rabbit best. If they don’t have the exact symptoms listed above but you are still concerned, it’s always best to contact your vet.

Published: October 2019

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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst