Friday, April 6, 2012

Malocclusion in Rabbits

pic of a jersey woolie, that with two teeth clippings 
the tooth issue  went away.

Rabbit teeth keep growing throughout its whole life. It takes a lot of daily chewing and gnawing to keep them worn down to usable lengths

Malocclusion in Rabbits is something to be concerned about

There are several main causes of Malocclusion in rabbits.
·        Hereditary/Genetic. Malocclusion is a hereditary disease that is passed on to the young from adult rabbits that also have the disorder.  Malocclusion is due to an autosomal recessive trait with incomplete penetrance. Rabbits with malocclusion should not be bred and spaying or neutering is highly recommended for any rabbit that has been diagnosed with malocclusion.
·        Face or head trauma. Trauma to the mouth can also cause the teeth to become misaligned which will result in the teeth not grinding down correctly. This is often caused by bunnies pulling on the wire of their cages and so pulling their teeth out of alignment. Most breeders know if they have a ‘wire puller’ in the shed and take precautions to stop them doing it!
·        Poor breeding or malnourishment of the doe or young babies.   It can occur as a result of calcium deficiency which leads to osteomalacia of the jaw which allows the tooth to move in it’s socket.
·        Bacterial infections. Bacterial infections can cause teeth to grow in odd directions.
·        Unsuitable diet. Many rabbit owners think that feeding the well promoted commercial mixes from leading food manufacturers is enough.   They may be‘nutritionally balanced’, but they do not take into account a number of very important factors including the eating pattern of rabbits in the wild, the problems of selective eating, and the lack of abrasive material found naturally in grass.

Signs of a problem
The most obvious symptom is overgrown teeth but where this isn’t obvious or hasn’t been picked up the following symptoms can also point to malocclusion:
  • Abbesses in the mouth or jaw
  • Drooling – this can also lead to dermatitis on the chin and chest which becomes itchy and can lead to fur pulling (see below)
  • Fur pulling – this can also be a symptom of a number of other things as well but the most common cause (assuming your bun isn’t pregnant as does pull fur for their nesting boxes) is malocclusion.
  • A swollen jaw
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Sudden drop in weight (due to bun not being able to eat)

- The treatment for malocclusion is having the teeth trimmed every four to six weeks. 
I have to admit, I don't understand the trimming every 4-6 weeks.   Why?   I rescued a rabbit once that apparently had just had it's teeth done the week before, and the person was told to come back in 3-4 weeks.   In that week the rabbits teeth were so badly curled it could not eat.   So in essence it would starve for the next three weeks until it's next appointment.    Can't see that as being good for the rabbit can you?

some helpful articles;

Raising has this one on Rabbit teeth.
- adult onset due to dietary problems, juvenile, wire pullers, jaw breakage - these are all causes.

Rabbit Teeth Issue Survey.
- conclusion that not a lot of differences between rabbit breeds, tend to affect about 1.3% of the rabbit population.

Merck Manual - Dental Malocclusion.
- Malocclusion (mandibular prognathism, brachygnathism) probably is the most common inherited disease in rabbits and leads to overgrowth of incisors with resultant difficulty in eating and drinking.

Malocclusion.   by the Australian National Rabbit Council. 
- Malocclusion,also referred to as buck' teeth or wolf' teeth, is a dental disease that is common in domesticated rabbits. Typically the teeth do not align correctly resulting in such ailments as overgrowth of teeth, sharp spurs on the molars, and curling of the incisors. Immediate treatment is required to ensure the continued health and happiness of your pet rabbit.

This picture courtesy of


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