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How to Care for Rabbit Teeth

small brown bunny chewing on an orange autumn leaf while standing next to a copper wire basket

Many first-time rabbit owners are unaware of how to properly care for their rabbit’s teeth. Why? Rabbit dental care differs significantly from pets like cats and dogs. Raise a happy, healthy rabbit by first understanding how to care for rabbit teeth properly.

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Unlike cats and dogs, a rabbit’s incisors (front teeth) grow continuously.

In the wild, they grind down their teeth while eating, preventing them from becoming overgrown.

However, domesticated rabbits aren’t always provided with the same opportunities to maintain their teeth on their own.

The result? Rabbits are prone to dental problems, potentially leading to serious complications.

A rabbit’s incisors grow on average 2-3 mm every week.

When you consider the small size of a rabbit’s jaw, it’s easy to see how this could cause a problem relatively quickly.

“Owners often don’t realize how crucial it is to look after their rabbits’ teeth, or the wide range of painful conditions that tooth problems can cause.”

Richard Saunders, vet specialist adviser to the Rabbit Welfare Association.

Before you get too worried or write off rabbits as the ideal pet, let’s talk about proper rabbit dental care.

The secret to keeping your rabbit safe and healthy is education.

The more you know, the better prepared you are to monitor your rabbit’s teeth, carry out proper dental care and recognize the signs of a problem early.

Knowledge is power!

Related: ‘How to Litter Train Your Rabbit

3 Tips to Care for Rabbit Teeth

#1 – Check Your Rabbit’s Teeth Weekly

The best way to stay up to date on your rabbit’s teeth is simply to check them on a regular basis.

This should be done at least once a week.

NOTE: If your rabbit is not comfortable with you checking out his/her teeth, you may have to work up to it by gradually working up to being able to handle their jaw area and how long you can investigate. Be patient!

His/her front teeth should be smooth apart from a single vertical line down the center of each of the top teeth.

Each tooth should be smooth (no bumps, spurs, or divots) and a creamy white colour.

The bottom of each tooth should end in a flat, chisel shape.

Gently touch their teeth themselves to ensure that they aren’t loose.

At the same time, look at the colour of the gums.

Healthy gums are pink, not darker in colour (red or purple).

Finally, you want to check to see if the teeth are meeting properly with no overgrowth.

Take note if your rabbit shows any pain or discomfort throughout the process.

If your rabbit flinches, check the area for any bulges or signs of swelling.  

If you see any issues or have any cause for concern, contact your veterinarian.

blue gloved hands holding a rabbit's head in order to show and examine it's front teeth

#2 – Learn the Signs and Symptoms of Dental Problems

Even if you do check your rabbit’s teeth regularly, there is a chance that a small problem may go unnoticed.

Rabbits instinctively hide their pain in the wild to avoid drawing the attention of predators.

This means that your rabbit is ‘hard wired’ to hide their discomfort from you.

This is NOT a sign that you are a ‘bad’ owner!  

Learning the common signs and symptoms of dental issues will allow you to identify a problem and seek help from your veterinarian early.

Dental problems can be incredibly uncomfortable and lead to serious complications.

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor Grooming Habits
  • Weep eyes
  • Runny Nose
  • Bumpy or Swollen Jawline
  • Grinding of Teeth
  • Low Energy/Activity Levels
  • Deformed, Broken or Excessively Long Teeth

If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. They will be able to provide temporary pain relief as well as discussing your options for treatment.

Related: ‘Learn to Recognize These 12 Common Rabbit Diseases, Illnesses and Ailments

#3 – Provide Opportunities for Your Rabbit to Chew

Wild rabbits wear their teeth down naturally by chewing on hay, branches, and twigs.

We can recreate this by providing items that encourage domestic rabbits to chew in a similar way.

The easiest option is to ensure that there is always a supply of fresh hay available in your rabbit’s cage.

According to the House Rabbit Society, hay should make up approximately 80% of your rabbit’s balanced diet.

Not only does it have great nutritional value, but it also helps to naturally wear down their teeth.

Safe wood blocks and commercial chew toys will also encourage your rabbit to wear down their teeth in a fun and safe way.

These can come in the form of hanging or loose chew toys, ‘furniture’ or structures for your rabbit’s habitat or smaller treat style chews.

While the cost of these chew toys can add up, it will be MUCH cheaper than the veterinary costs associated with dental problems (and your rabbit will be happier too).

blue gloved hands holding a rabbit in order to examine it's teeth with the text how to care for rabbit teeth properly

Were you aware of these important factors to consider in order to care for rabbit teeth properly?

Feel free to share any tips, tricks and suggestions in the comment section below! (This can be a GREAT resource for newer rabbit owners)

About Author

Britt is a digital/social media marketer and the owner of The Social Alternative. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending her time with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs Daviana and Indiana and their 2 cats Pippen and Jinx. A proud pet mom, she shares all her pet-related tips, tricks and funny pet antics on Shed Happens.

12 Comments

  • Rosie Ireland
    October 7, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    Great post, very informative! I don’t have any pets but I know that this will be helpful to those that do!

    Rosie

    Reply
    • Britt
      October 8, 2020 at 9:52 am

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • shyla
    October 7, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I actually had a pet rabbit pass away that we had given to us by someone who essentially neglected it. It had many teeth complications as they didn’t provide it the proper necessities to gnaw and keep its teeth healthy. We did our best with her but she had too many health issues. Rabbits are delicate creatures that need a lot of attention and care. More people need to read this information!

    Reply
    • Britt
      October 8, 2020 at 9:45 am

      They are very delicate creatures that require careful care. Unfortunately, a lot of first-time rabbit owners simply don’t have enough information to make the best choices for their rabbit’s care. That’s why it’s so important to discuss topics like this.

      Reply
  • Unwanted Life
    October 7, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    Surprised to hear hay makes up a normal rabbits diet, where do they even get that in the wild? Also surprised it’s good enough to help balance out their teeth growth, hey doesn’tseem rough enough

    Reply
    • Britt
      October 8, 2020 at 9:32 am

      It’s similar to the nutritional value of the grass and other plant life that a wild rabbit would munch on. If you rub your fingers along grass or hay, you can feel a roughness. It works like sandpaper, slowly wearing the teeth away as they are chewing on them.

      Reply
  • Sophie Harriet
    October 8, 2020 at 5:44 am

    I don’t own rabbits but this was interesting to read! I didn’t know that rabbits’ teeth grow continuously.

    Reply
    • Britt
      October 8, 2020 at 9:21 am

      It is one of those details that isn’t discussed often enough. Hopefully, by bringing it up, I can help new rabbit owners avoid unnecessary problems.

      Reply
  • Jenny in Neverland
    October 8, 2020 at 7:19 am

    Wow I didn’t actually know that rabbits teeth always grow! I can imagine some household rabbits definitely have problems with not having the right stuff to enable them to grind their teeth down x

    Reply
    • Britt
      October 8, 2020 at 9:19 am

      It’s definitely a common problem according to the veterinarians that I’ve talked to. Luckily, it’s easy to prevent problems with the right information.

      Reply
  • Sarah
    October 10, 2020 at 6:52 am

    Some great tips! I always check my guinea pigs teeth and make sure they have things to chew as they are similar to rabbits xx

    Reply
    • Britt
      October 10, 2020 at 11:26 am

      Yes, very similar in that sense. It’s so important to make sure that they always have something appropriate to chew on.

      Reply

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