Rabbit & Rodent Dental Problems

rabbits and rodents

At Castle Vets in Reading, we often see rabbits and rodents with a variety of dental problems. The teeth of most animals (including humans) stop growing after the initial development period, but rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs and rodents have teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives, which means dental problems will develop if these animals are unable to grind their teeth down through feeding and chewing.

Common reasons for dental problems

  • Insufficient gnawing materials will restrict the animal’s ability to grind and wear their teeth down naturally.
  • Poor nutrition during development can lead to dental and bone abnormalities.
  • Poor nutrition after the growth period leads to dental abnormalities.
  • Traumatic injury and/or broken teeth can lead to malocclusion (teeth not aligning properly).
  • Cavities and periodontal disease caused by a poor diet and bacteria passed on from owners.
  • Genetic abnormalities passed on from the parents (this is becoming much more common in rabbits because of poor breeding standards by irresponsible owners).

Signs that your pet may have a dental problem

  • Decreased appetite, your pet may stop eating completely or only manage very small amounts at a time.
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Swellings around the jaw area or under the eye
  • Weight loss
  • Runny eyes (one or both eyes may be involved)
  • Discharge from the cheek or jaw area
  • Overgrown teeth may be visible
Dental problems in small animals

Dental problems in small animals

Common types of dental problems

  1. Overgrown incisors will normally be visible outside the animals mouth, but sometimes can grow up through the roof of the mouth or out through the cheek.
  2. Pre molar and molar teeth can grow painful spurs that rub against the tongue and cheek of the animal causing ulceration and laceration.
  3. Abscesses (a pocket of infected pus) can form because of infection in the mouth. They are most often seen as swellings around the jaw line, cheek or under the eyes.
  4. Dental Caries and tooth decay  is usually caused by a diet of high energy and sweet foods (as in humans).
Dental abscesses in rabbits

Dental abscesses in rabbits

Treatment of dental problems

  • Maloccluded or Overgrown Incisor teeth – The vet is usually able to clip or file these teeth down without the need for sedation or an anaesthetic if the pet will tolerate it.
  • Spurs on Pre-Molars or Molars – The vet may need to give your pet an anaesthetic in order to be able to file these teeth and make him or her more comfortable
  • Dental abscesses – The treatment of these will depend on the location and severity of the problem. The abscesses of small animals do not drain well and often need to be surgically removed under an anaesthetic.
Spurs form on teeth and can cause a lot of pain when the dig into the mouth and tongue

Spurs form on teeth and can cause a lot of pain when the dig into the mouth and tongue

Long-term care of animals with dental problems

A rabbit or rodent diagnosed with dental problems will often require regular visits to the vet for treatment, but you can help a great deal by providing the correct nutrition. Feeding the right foods is vitally important and giving your pet a balanced diet will go a long way to helping with dental problems as it will enable them to grind their teeth down properly. Give hard foods (and hay where appropriate) and safe woods to chew on such as elm, ash, maple, birch, apple, orange, pear, peach. Most of these are available in pet shops. (do not give cedar, plum, redwood, cherry, and oleander)

If you suspect that your pet has a dental problem we recommend that you see your vet as soon as possible.

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Worming Reminder Postcard Competition Winners

Castle Vets in Reading are pleased to announce the winners of our worming reminder postcard competition today. It was a really tough decision but we managed to narrow the winners down to four entries. We decided that two of them would go onto worming reminders and two onto our booster vaccination reminders.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who entered the competition because the photos we received of your much loved pets are amazing. We aim to showcase all of the lovely pictures that didn’t win in various places on our website, blog and newspaper articles so look out for them in future posts. (please let us know if you would rather we didn’t use yours)

Worming Reminder Postcard Winners


Old English Bulldog


Domestic Short Hair

Booster Reminder Postcard Winners


Solo & Brian
Jack Russell Terriers


Domestic Short Hair

Seasonal Canine Illness


The Animal Health Trust is warning dog owners to remain alert this autumn, as a mystery dog illness is expected to reoccur in the upcoming months.

Whilst we at Castle Vets in Reading have not seen any cases of this illness in the Reading area, we would like to warn dog owners of the potential risk and symptoms to look out for.

Seasonal Canine Illness  has been seen in recent years in the late Summer and Autumn months from August to November and dogs that have been walked in woodland areas suddenly fall ill. The illness seems to effect all dogs regardless of breed, age and sex and unfortunately we still do not know what causes the disease.

Symptoms of Seasonal Canine Illness

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Lack Of Appetite
  • Shaking/Trembling
  • High Temperature

The three most common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea and/or lethargy and the symptoms generally appear within 24-72 hours of walking in woodland areas.  Research has shown that if dogs showing signs of Seasonal Canine Illness receive prompt veterinary treatment they tend to recover within 7-10 days. The Animal Health Trust have asked that dog owners be vigilant for the signs and seek immediate veterinary advice should their dog fall ill following a woodland walk.

Because the cause of Seasonal Canine Illness is still unknown, the trust also recommends that dog owners ensure their pets are up to date with preventative treatments for external parasites, and always keep a supply of fresh water available to them.

Research into the illness

Research is being carried out at the University of Nottingham into the cause of the illness. It is believed that a naturally occurring toxin, released from a plant, fungi or algal bloom is a likely candidate for causing the disease. Since the Animal Health Trust has been investigating the illness, fewer dogs have been dying from Seasonal Canine Illness. In 2010, one in five cases reported to the trust resulted in death, compared with less than two per cent in 2012.

Any owners of dogs that have suffered with Seasonal Canine Illness or have walked their dog in any of the following Animal Health Trust study sites (with or without any subsequent symptoms) are encouraged to complete an online questionnaire.

  • Sandringham Estate or Thetford Forest in Norfolk
  • Clumber Park or Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire
  • Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk

How you can help

  • Tell your friends and family about Seasonal Canine Illness and what to look out for so that prompt treatment can be given if their dog should fall ill.
  • Complete the  online questionnaire if you have walked your dog in one of the five study sites or if your dog is thought to have had Seasonal Canine Illness
  • Register for email updates on the Animal Health Trust website so that you can keep up to date with any information they have.
  • If you can spare it, make a donation on the Animal Health Trust website to help them continue with their valuable research.

If you think your dog is showing signs of Seasonal Canine Illness please contact your veterinary surgery as soon as possible.

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