Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rabbits Teeth!

Another request to our rehoming co-ordinator for us to take in a rabbit needing repeated dental treatment which the owner can't afford to pay for.

We get asked to do this almost every month and, sadly, it's most unlikely that we'll ever be in a position to do anything more than offer some help with the veterinary costs because there are always enormous numbers of unwanted rabbits needing homes and one who is going to need expensive treatment on a regular basis is just not going to be adoptable.

This is another situation where prevention is far better than cure. Some rabbits (particularly the very dwarf and lop-eared breeds) have inherited dental problems, but the majority of rabbit dental disease is due to incorrect diet.

Rabbits evolved to live mainly on grass, which is extremely abrasive. All of a rabbit's teeth grow continuously and if they are not subjected to constant wear they will become too long or misaligned and make it difficult for the rabbit to eat. Once a rabbit has tooth problems he may become reluctant to chew, thus setting up a vicious circle. Because of this it is crucial that the major part of any rabbit's diet is either grass or good quality hay (which is simply dried grass). 

The Rabbit Welfare Foundation has helpful leaflets on rabbit dental disease and on the proper diet for pet rabbits.

Because of the hereditary element any rabbit which suffers from dental problems should not be allowed to breed.

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