Oscar – October 2012
When Oscar a lion head rabbit came in to see us, his owner reported that Oscar had been eating fine but that he had started doing a strange ‘retching’ action and had also not been pooing as much as he ought to. After having a look at Oscar, we soon realised that he had lost weight since previous visits and he also had a wet chin from where he had been drooling. Oscar like most rabbits, was not so keen on letting us have a look in his mouth, his front teeth- the incisors looked fine but we were more concerned about his back teeth- his premolars and molars or sometimes referred to as collectively the ‘cheek teeth’ as these can often cause problems.
After discussion with the owner we decided it would be better to have Oscar in for the day so we could examine the back of his mouth under general anaesthetic. This makes it a lot easier to have a good look at the back of Oscar’s mouth whilst he is nice and relaxed.
The first thing we noticed on looking inside Oscar’s mouth was that on one of his cheek teeth on the top right he had what we call a spur growing into the side of his cheek. As rabbits teeth grow continuously, normally the cheek teeth would be worn down by the continuous grinding of the teeth against each other, diet can also play a role. In Oscar’s case like many other rabbits, the cheek teeth have a mismatch in the constant wear and so the result is a sharp spur which can grow outwards into the cheek or inwards into the tongue. This can be painful and if left can start to cause an ulcer either on the cheek or the tongue. This spur (as seen below) had been caught quite early, so luckily had not caused too much damage to Oscar’s cheek- this was filled down to prevent any further trauma.
Whilst doing the dental, we also noticed that on Oscar’s left cheek, there was also a large area which looked to be ulcerated and infected (below). This was a bit unusual as this area did not seem to have been caused from Oscar’s teeth but this would certainly be very uncomfortable and along with the sharp spur be causing dental pain and the symptoms that Oscar was showing. Oscar came round quickly from his anaesthetic and went home with some medication to treat for pain/inflammation and to also treat the infection in his mouth. He is now doing a lot better, and has since started putting weight back on.
From this case we can see that is important to keep an eye on whether your rabbit is eating normally and if you notice any other unusual signs to get your rabbit booked in for a dental check. Remember our nurses also do FREE Small Furries Clinics and would be happy to check your rabbit and also discuss dietary requirements which are essential for good dental health in rabbits. Clinical signs are normally a good indicator of dental disease in rabbits, if you are worried about your bunny use the general checklist below to check if they may have any dental problems or make an appointment with us for a health check.
Signs of dental disease in rabbits:
- Excessive salivation / drooling, this is often first noticed as a wet chin
- Food intake is reduced / or only eating certain food types
- Reduced droppings
- Weight loss
- Difficulty chewing/ grinding teeth/ odd behaviour
- Nasal discharge / eye discharge
- Swellings around the face / matted coat
- Being quieter than normal
- Bad breath