Rabbits teeth, unlike our own, continue to grow throughout
their lives. Teeth enamel is the hardest substance in the
body and can only be worn down by opposing tooth enamel.
Barney's top jaw is significantly broader than his bottom
jaw. Unless there is even wear of the molars, spurs or hooks
will appear at the outer edge of the top teeth and the inner
edge of the bottom teeth.
These jagged spikes of tooth will then dig into the tongue
or cheek causing mouth ulceration and increased salivation.
This is a well understood phenomenon which occurs in some
horses requiring their teeth to be rasped on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, rabbits are somewhat smaller and less co-operative
than their equine counterparts. This means that when dental
work is required a general anaesthetic is essential.
Whilst this still carries some risk, if the symptoms are
identified early enough before the patient becomes moribund
or clinically unwell the chances of success are exceedingly
Fortunately, Barney's problem was picked up before secondary
infection became an issue. Now that his owners are aware
of his potential problems they will be weighing him on a
regular basis to identify any unexplained weight loss in
Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS
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