Healthy teeth for a decorative rabbit, as well as for any other lagomorph, are the key to a long, full and happy life. In the wild, rabbits are quite capable of taking care of the good condition of their oral cavity. However, at home, the correct bite and strength of the teeth are the responsibility of the owner.
Emergence of teeth
Milk teeth are one of the first things that are formed in the future baby rabbit in the womb. The process begins as early as the third week of development. Babies are born without hair and the ability to see and hear, but with sixteen milk teeth – six incisors and ten chewing teeth.
Starting from the second week of a rabbit’s life, his mouth undergoes changes: the milk teeth with which he was born begin to be gradually replaced by permanent ones. The process of changing does not take much time, and the baby, who was born only a month ago, already has 28 full-fledged permanent teeth.
However, the development of the teeth of decorative rabbits is not completed on this: every week they become 2-3 millimeters longer.
The structure and arrangement of rabbit teeth
A decorative rabbit has only two types of teeth:
- Incisors. There are only six of them, and they are not arranged symmetrically – there are four incisors on the upper jaw, and only two on the lower. In addition, this type of teeth differs in size. The upper incisors are divided into large ones (identical in appearance and size to the lower ones), which can be easily seen behind the lips, and small ones – two tiny, almost indistinguishable teeth located directly behind the large ones. Large incisors have fairly long curved roots, while small incisors have a much straighter and smaller root. The rabbit needs incisors to bite off pieces of food (usually grass or hay) of the length necessary for him to chew.
- Chewing teeth. They are divided into premolars (false molars) and molars. Their difference lies only in the anatomical structure – the appearance, structure and purpose of these teeth are almost identical. Their combination forms one common group in terms of their functions. The roots of the chewing teeth are quite long, and go into the bones of the jaw and skull. More than two dozen molars are used by a decorative rabbit for the purpose of chewing food. These teeth turn food into gruel, and the chewing mechanism itself is comparable to millstones.
Contrary to popular belief, the process of grinding down molars and premolars is not facilitated by the hardness of food, but by the direct process of chewing.
On the upper and lower jaws, the teeth of a decorative rabbit are located symmetrically, but their number differs – 16 teeth grow at the top, and 12 at the bottom. This difference is explained by the absence of small incisors on the lower jaw and a smaller number of premolars.
On each side of the upper jaw there is one large and small incisor, followed by a diastema – a toothless space formed due to the absence of fangs in rabbits. After it, there are three premolars and molars. The lower jaw is characterized by the following arrangement and number of teeth: 1 large incisor, 2 false molars and 3 molars.
Both incisors and molars of rabbits, unlike rodents, grow throughout their lives – they grow up to 1 centimeter per month. Enamel is also different – strong and stable on the outside, soft and pliable on the inside, which contributes to the natural grinding process.
The dentoalveolar system of decorative rabbits has a specific anatomical structure. It is characterized by protruding forward large upper incisors, covering a smaller, underdeveloped pair in such a way that it becomes a problem for a pet owner without special education to detect it. And it is this “dominant” pair of incisors that plays a major role in the formation of the correct bite.
However, for one reason or another, the formation process does not always go smoothly, and deviations can occur that are clearly visible even to a novice rabbit breeder. In this regard, veterinarians distinguish three types of bite of decorative rabbits:
- Normal. When examining the rabbit’s teeth from the side, it is clear that the upper teeth, as it were, cover the lower ones. When viewed from the front – the lower teeth follow exclusively after the upper. This situation indicates that the bite has formed correctly, and does not require any measures.
- Straight. In this case, the teeth of the upper jaw are above the teeth of the lower, thereby forming a kind of “wall”. This state of affairs is an occasion to consult a veterinarian for advice.
- Wrong. This type of bite is accompanied by the opposite of the natural structure of the dentoalveolar system. Ahead are not the upper, but the lower teeth of the rabbit. In general, the view resembles a bulldog’s mouth.
The last two types of bite can cause a lot of trouble not only to the owner of the animal, but also to the most eared pet. Therefore, the correctness of the bite must be carefully monitored.
Diseases of the teeth in a decorative rabbit
The oral cavity of rabbits needs increased attention, because the teeth are the Achilles heel of these animals. Due to certain factors, dental diseases can develop that are in dire need of help not only from the owner, but also from a specialist.
Description. Violation of the correct contact between the teeth of the lower and upper jaw, leading to the termination of the process of natural grinding. At the same time, overgrown teeth constantly injure the tongue, cheeks and gums of the rabbit, which causes a lot of pain and discomfort.
- Wrong diet. In the wild, rabbits take at least 5 minutes to eat. A portion of fresh grass is eaten by the animal within 7 minutes, while hay can take up to 15 minutes. Dry mixed food, to which modern eared owners are not indifferent, is chewed by a rabbit in just a couple of minutes. In addition, overly nutritious, high-calorie food quickly satisfies the feeling of hunger. As a result, 5 minutes of continuous chewing, necessary for healthy teeth, turn into 1-2 minutes. And ready-made feeds practically do not contain silicon salts, which are natural abrasives.
Everyone knows that calcium is a building material for teeth. However, for some reason, many rabbit breeders ignore this mineral when compiling a daily menu for an eared pet.
- Malocclusion. Some breeds of decorative rabbits are predisposed to malocclusion, for example, their lop-eared representatives.
- Injuries. Violation of the closure of the jaws is often the result of injuries of the dentoalveolar system suffered by the animal and improper healing of the fracture.
- Infections. Bacterial infections that affect the roots of teeth can change the direction of their growth.
- Loss of appetite. In some cases, the appetite is preserved, but immediately after the start of the meal, the animal stops eating. As a result, the pet may lose weight.
- Violation of personal hygiene. The rabbit stops combing and brushing.
- Uneaten caecotrophs. Stopping the rabbit from eating feces signals problems with the incisors.
- Refusal of solid and hard food. The rabbit prefers soft food.
- Furrows on the teeth. Violation of calcium metabolism leads to thinning of the enamel coating.
- Darkening of teeth. The color of the root part of strongly regrown teeth changes from pale gray to dark.
- Problems with swallowing. Violation of the process of swallowing and chewing food is characteristic of malocclusion. Sometimes rabbits begin to chew just like that, without food.
- Intestinal dysfunction. Accompanied by the absence of bowel movements.
- Lachrymation. With this disease, inflammation in the sinuses can develop.
- Salivation. Characteristic of malocclusion of molars, salivation occurs due to emerging problems with closing the mouth and inflammation of the mucosa. The chin is often wet, the skin in places of abundant saliva is inflamed.
- Gritting teeth. This unpleasant sound indicates the discomfort and pain felt by the animal.
- Injuries in the oral cavity. Too long teeth injure the mucous membranes, which leads to the development of bleeding and inflammation.
- Suppuration. A strong development of inflammation is fraught with the appearance of edema and abscesses.
Treatment. This disease has no cure. The only thing you can do is contact the veterinarian. Here, if necessary, the specialist can trim the teeth to a normal size.
Rabbits cannot be sharpened at home. The procedure must be carried out by a specialist using special tools. Self-treatment of malocclusion will lead to complete destruction of the teeth.
What is malocclusion, and how it is treated in veterinary clinics, is shown in the video below:
Growth of the root
Description. Violation of mineral metabolism leads to a weakening of the bone tissue and an increase in the root sector of the teeth. The overgrown roots of the lower jaw are fraught with a relatively safe bulging of the tubercles, and the course of processes in the upper jaw leads to:
- epiphora – constant lacrimation;
- dacryocystitis – the development of an inflammatory process in the lacrimal sac.
- Lack of minerals in the diet. A low calcium content in the animal’s diet and an imbalance of fluorine and calcium often lead to the development of pathology. As a rule, this picture is observed in rabbits, whose diet is unbalanced and consists mainly of corn flakes, wheat and peas.
- Violation of the absorption of calcium. Inflammation of the intestines, infectious diseases, as well as the defeat of a decorative rabbit by parasites (coccidiosis, worms, etc.) lead to problems in calcium absorption. Sometimes the cause of difficulties is impaired metabolism and age-related changes.
- tubercles. The formation of tubercles on the lower jaw in the region of the root of the molars is the most striking hallmark of the disease.
- Lachrymation. The constant flow of animal tears that does not go away on its own.
- Conjunctivitis and keratitis. May occur with the growth of the roots of the upper jaw.
- Malocclusion. As incisors, and molars and premolars.
- Diet normalization. The owner of the animal must learn how to properly and what to feed a decorative rabbit. It is worth remembering that pets with overgrown roots need roughage with a high calcium content.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs – Traumatin, Traumel, Engystol and Echinacea Compositum.
- Antibiotic therapy with the appearance of purulent processes. The eyes are washed with a solution of Furacilin, the use of eye ointments with antibiotics, for example, Tetracycline.
- Metabolic stimulants – Gamavit, Catozal, Cyanofor.
- Preparations for the normalization of bowel function – Liarsin, Veracol, Nux Vomica-Homaccord.
Abscesses and suppurations
Description. Suppuration is in itself a rather serious problem, fraught with a lot of discomfort and difficult to treat. However, an abscess brings much more trouble – a purulent inflammation of tissues, characterized by the formation of cavities and bacterial damage. Abscesses not only cause momentary discomfort in the form of pain in the animal and the development of intoxication, but without treatment, they inevitably lead to blood poisoning and death.
- Mechanical damage. Pathology can occur as a result of injuries when cutting teeth, absorption of sharp objects, bites, scratches, damage to the tongue, cheeks and gums on the sharp edges of overgrown teeth.
- Metabolic disorders and age-related changes. Malfunctions in mineral metabolism, weakened immunity, loss of tooth enamel, growth of the roots of the teeth and the development of caries, left unattended, often lead to abscesses.
- Swelling. Occurs in cases of shallow abscess location.
- Loss of appetite up to the complete refusal of food.
- An increase in temperature in the area of suppuration.
- In advanced cases – an increase in the overall body temperature of the rabbit.
- Operation. Surgery is required to open an abscess. Depending on the degree of development of the pathology and the depth, both general anesthesia and local anesthesia (blockade using novocaine) can be used.
- Disinfection. That is, the installation of drainage, washing with solutions (Furacilin) and the introduction of drugs such as Levomekol and Levosin.
- A course of antibiotics – Enrofloxacin, Baytril.
- Stimulation of metabolic processes. It is carried out in order to accelerate regeneration, relieve intoxication, improve overall health. Prescribed drugs such as Gamavit and Catozal.
- Suppression of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs are used – Travmatin, Traumeel and others.
- Treatment. It consists in daily washing and laying ointments.
Drainage is removed only after the complete cleansing of the opened abscess, and the treatment is stopped no earlier than the cavity is completely overgrown.
Many owners of decorative rabbits can be frightened when their pet breaks a tooth. However, in reality, there is nothing to worry about – within two weeks the organ will grow back. But the animal needs some help:
- First of all, you need to check if the jaw is broken and if the rabbit is conscious.
- If the answer is yes, then remove the broken fragment. If the affected tooth is loose, but it cannot be removed without effort, then it is better to try to repeat the removal procedure in half a day. Due to the constant growth, the growing new tooth will push the broken fragment, and it will be possible to extract it painlessly for the animal.
- In the case when the tooth is broken from impact, inspect the oral cavity for wounds and scratches. If there are any, then treat with a non-aggressive and painless antiseptic, for example, Chlorhexidine.
- Monitor the condition and activity of the eared pet. If lethargy and lack of appetite are noticed behind him, you should immediately seek help from a veterinary clinic.
Knocking and gnashing of teeth
First of all, the grinding of teeth in rabbits is a behavioral reaction and does not mean at all that the animal’s teeth need urgent treatment. In the same way, as well as knocking with paws does not at all indicate that the pet has problems with the limbs.
Depending on the intensity and volume, a rabbit can express various emotions by grinding, for example:
- slight creaking or tapping of teeth indicates that the animal feels relaxed and satisfied;
- loud, hard knocking and creaking can be signs of discomfort and pain.
In order to correctly interpret the signals given, the owner of the rabbit needs to carefully observe his pet from the first days of his appearance. Thus, body language is gradually learned. Observation and communication will help to quickly recognize signs of dental disease and poor health of the animal in a timely manner. And the sooner treatment is started, the faster the rabbit will recover.
In some cases, the grinding of teeth, both in adult animals and in a rabbit, is a sign that not everything is in order with health. You may also notice that the animal chatters its teeth. It might not just be the rabbit incisors. Sometimes eared pets gnash their teeth to signal that something hurts inside them.
Dental care of a decorative rabbit
Caring for the dentoalveolar system of decorative rabbits involves following a few simple rules:
- Feed your pet properly. To do this, the diet must be balanced, contain enough minerals and both coarse and juicy and soft food.
- Prevent any injury to animals. To do this, avoid crowding rabbits, contact with aggressive pets, avoid sharp objects in the cage, and so on.
- Regular, at least 6 times a year, visits to the veterinarian.
- Pamper animals with toys made of wood. The assortment in pet stores today is extensive, and you can find wooden toys for hares in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- Regularly give the rabbit branches of trees such as pear, apple, mountain ash, linden, willow. These are the tastiest twigs and are loved by all ornamental rabbits. In winter, branches of coniferous trees can be offered. But before giving, be sure to make sure that the plants have not been treated with chemicals.
- Occasionally spoil your pet with a small cracker of white bread as a treat.
- With a direct bite, check the condition of the teeth several times a week. Because a direct bite very easily turns into a wrong one.
Keeping a pet’s teeth healthy is not difficult and expensive, which cannot be said about correcting mistakes in the care and maintenance of a decorative rabbit. A little attention and care from the owner of an eared pet – and the animal will delight the owner with a healthy smile for more than one year.