Overall, rabbits have embraced domestication, but one problem they often suffer from is overgrown teeth. Unlike human teeth, rabbit teeth keep growing throughout their life. This isn't a problem in the wild because they tend to eat lots of grasses and other fibrous foods, and those foods serve to wear away tooth enamel and prevent the teeth from getting too long.
Unfortunately, rabbits aren't often treated to the same diet in a domestic environment, so the teeth can grow unchecked. Here are just five common complications of letting your rabbit's teeth grow too long.
1. Problems Eating
Probably the most common problem is a simple lack of appetite. Rabbits tend to graze instead of wolfing down each meal, so it can be harder to discern whether they are eating properly than if you were dealing with a dog or a cat, but you might notice their food bowl staying full. They could also refuse treats, and they may start exhibiting more subdued behaviour.
2. Pain and Stress
As the teeth grow too long, they can start to tear the soft tissue inside your rabbit's mouth. As you might expect, this is extremely painful and stressful. It might not be easy to see inside your rabbit's mouth to check if there is any damage, but they may seem more fearful and want to hide all the time, and natural reaction to feelings of pain and weakness.
If left untreated, your overgrown teeth can lead to infection when the tissue of the mouth is cut into. This in itself is painful and unpleasant, but the more serious issue is that infection can easily spread to other parts of the rabbit's body, potentially proving fatal.
4. Blocked Tear Ducts
Sometimes a rabbit with overlong teeth will start to weep tears without any discernible explanation. This is because the teat duct passes very close to the roots of the incisor teeth, and any problems with the tooth can cause the duct to block. This can be painful and possibly lead to an infection of the tear duct.
5. Tooth Removal
Your rabbit's teeth can be shortened by your vet, often without the use of anaesthesia if the issue is caught early enough. However, seriously overgrown teeth sometimes need to be removed. Rabbits can survive without their incisors and some of the cheek teeth, but their quality of life won't be as good. Also, you'll face the risk of having to pay substantial surgery bills.
For more information, contact a vet clinic.