Keep an eye on your bunny's oral health

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Rabbits are everywhere at the shelter right now! When one gets adopted, it seems like 2 more take its place. Rabbits are wonderful animals but, like any pet, they do require special care in order to lead long and healthy lives. One area that especially needs attention is your rabbit's teeth. Much like fingernails, a rabbit's teeth are always growing. If they are unable to file down their teeth on their own through chewing, a rabbit's teeth can protrude from their mouth like tusks and cause a number of jaw issues.

The easiest way to help your bunny keep his teeth filed down is by providing him with a proper diet. As house pets, rabbits tend to eat a diet primarily made of pellets. Unfortunately, these pellets do not offer the high fiber diet your bunny needs. Rabbits need a variety of textures in their food in order to help them keep their teeth filed down, and one of the best and easiest ways to provide those different textures is by ensuring your bunny's diet is made up primarily of hay. The more types of hay you can offer your bunny, the better, as the different textures require your rabbit to use different parts of the mouth to chew.

Aside from hay, chew toys made from wood or branches help your bunny keep his teeth filed down. Make sure to offer a mix of wooden chews as different shapes (a block vs. a twig, for example) require your rabbit to use different teeth. Apple tree sticks are one of the most common wood chews you'll find in pet supply stores and rabbits adore them. Other common types of branches for rabbits include willow, ash, pine, and maple. If you are giving your rabbit a stick straight from your own yard, make sure it's chemical free and washed off to get rid of any bugs.

In addition to helping your bunny's teeth through a proper diet, be sure to take your rabbit to a veterinarian one to two times a year. Not all veterinarians treat rabbits, so be sure to find a vet familiar with bunnies before you actually need one. Your vet will check your rabbit's mouth to make sure his teeth are in good condition and, if necessary, your rabbit's teeth can be trimmed if they're not getting filed down enough through food and chew toys.

It's also important to know the signs that your bunny may be having teeth issues. Symptoms like drooling and discharge from your bunny's eyes and nose can mean your bunny has mouth problems. Don't rely on your bunny's eating habits to tell you if there is a problem. Bunnies can hide health issues very well, so a routine check of your pet's mouth is necessary to stay on top of potential problems. If you notice a problem with your rabbit's teeth or mouth, take him to the vet immediately.

Alaina Goodnough is the Promotions Coordinator at Cocheco Valley Humane Society in Dover, NH. She lives in Sanford, ME with two parrots, a cockatoo, a cat, a bearded dragon, and two dachshunds. She can be reached at CVHS at To learn more about Cocheco Valley Humane Society, go to or call 603-749-5322.

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