Why do rabbits grind their teeth?

isolated rabbits

Overview

  • Have you noticed your rabbit grinding their teeth?
  • Tooth grinding can be a sign of pain, illness or distress.
  • Book an appointment with your vet if you notice your rabbit grinding their teeth. Never wait to see if they improve, this could lead to more severe problems.

General information and causes

Often, tooth grinding in a rabbit is a sign of pain, stress or illness. However, some softer, quiet forms of tooth grinding can indicate happiness/being relaxed or even be a natural behaviour to ensure the teeth stay the right length.

Loud tooth grinding

Rabbits tend to grind their teeth loudly if they are unwell and in pain, or stressed (i.e. mouth pain, abdominal pain, or a stressful event). This type of harsh tooth grinding usually comes from the back teeth (cheek teeth).

Quiet tooth grinding

Some types of tooth grinding are normal and natural for a rabbit, for example: when they are happy and relaxed (similar to a cat’s purr), and when they wear down their front teeth (to keep them the right size and shape). This type of tooth grinding is quiet, gentle and comes from the front teeth.

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet for an urgent appointment if your rabbit has started grinding their teeth. Never wait to see if they get better, this could lead to more severe problems developing. Even if it turns out to be a normal natural habit for your rabbit, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If possible, film your rabbit grinding their teeth to show your vet.

Other symptoms to look out for

Your vet will want to know if you have noticed any other symptoms of pain, illness or stress, including:

Published: October 2019

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

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst