Can Rabbits Die From Overgrown Teeth?

Categorized as Bunny Health

Last Updated on January 2, 2022 by Rei Garnet

Dental problems like overgrown teeth in rabbits are extremely dangerous and can even lead to death if not treated. A rabbit that’s in pain due to a dental problem would refuse to eat or only eat a little.

A rabbit that’s refusing to eat would eventually develop some kind of digestive problems like GI stasis because rabbits need to constantly eat for their gut to function properly.

Rabbits need to constantly chew on things to grind their teeth because rabbit’s teeth constantly grow. Rabbit’s teeth normally grow 1 cm each month approximately.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why a rabbit can die from overgrown teeth:

How can rabbits die from overgrown teeth?

A rabbit with an overgrown bottom teeth

Rabbits can die from overgrown teeth because most of the time, they cannot eat or would refuse to eat due to pain or inability to chew or swallow.

Overgrown teeth could even grow until it meets your rabbit’s lower jaw, which can lead to abscesses in the mouth. If the abscess is not treated, it can lead to infections that can spread to your rabbit’s jaw, areas of their head, and neck.

Which in turn could lead to sepsis, a life-threatening infection that can kill your rabbit.

How to tell if your rabbit has overgrown teeth?

You can tell that your rabbit has overgrown teeth by looking for symptoms of malocclusion or by manually checking its teeth.

Here are the symptoms that your rabbit might be suffering from malocclusion:

  • Weight loss. Rabbits that are suffering from overgrown teeth would likely suffer from weight loss because they cannot eat properly or would refuse to eat due to pain.
  • Drooling. Rabbits that are suffering from overgrown teeth would likely find it difficult to completely shut their mouth, which in turn could lead to drooling.
  • Stool changes. Rabbits that are suffering from overgrown teeth would likely develop some kind of digestive problem like GI stasis due to the inability to eat enough fiber. Watch out for changes in your rabbit’s stool both in size and consistency.
  • Uneaten cecotropes. Rabbits that have overgrown teeth would likely suffer from uneaten cecotropes because they won’t be able to eat their cecotropes. Watch out for an increased pile of cecotropes on your rabbit’s cage/hutch.
  • Abscesses. A Facial abscess can also form due overgrown teeth.
  • Eye problems. Your rabbits can also suffer from eye problems like runny eyes due to abscess and pressure of the tear ducks from elongated roots.
  • Wet paws. You might also notice that your rabbit always have wet paws when they’re suffering from overgrown teeth. Because rabbits that have overgrown teeth would have difficulty shutting their mouth, your rabbits paws might get wet when your rabbit is trying to wipe their mouth.

You can also manually check your rabbit’s teeth if it’s overgrown. Here’s a great video by PDSA on how to check your rabbit’s teeth:

What causes overgrown rabbit teeth?

A rabbit thats eating pellet, which can cause overgrown teeth because it doesnt grind down teeth

Overgrown teeth in rabbits are often caused by a wrong diet. Wild rabbits would often chew grass and wood all day, which causes proper tooth wear.

While pet rabbits are often fed the wrong diet or diet that doesn’t wear the teeth down like pellets. Your rabbits need to eat hay in order for them to properly wear their teeth down.

You should also provide some chew toys like twigs to further help your rabbit file down their teeth.

Overgrown teeth can also be genetics, certain breeds like dwarf rabbits and lop breed rabbits are more prone to overgrown teeth.

Finally, there’s a theory that even though rabbits are getting a lot of calcium in their diet(from hay), they are not able to utilize that calcium due to the lack of exposure to sunlight(vitamin D, which enables the absorption of calcium).

How long can a rabbit survive before dying caused by overgrown teeth?

The amount of time for a rabbit to die from overgrown teeth would depend on the condition your rabbit would develop from having overgrown teeth.

As an example, if your rabbit developed GI stasis because they are not eating enough fiber because they’re refusing to eat due to pain from overgrown teeth, your rabbit could die in 24 to 48 hours.

How to prevent your rabbit from dying from overgrown teeth?

The best way to prevent your rabbit from dying from overgrown teeth is to bring them to a veterinarian as soon as you notice that your rabbit’s teeth are not normal or when they’re showing signs of malocclusion. 

Your veterinarian would likely file your rabbit’s teeth or cut it down to proper size.

Some people would try to fix overgrown teeth themselves by using a nail clipper or pliers/wire cutters to cut the rabbit’s teeth in proper length.

But I would highly advise you to not do this, you could further damage your rabbit’s teeth by splitting the teeth lengthwise if you do this incorrectly.

When should you bring your rabbit to a veterinarian to prevent them from dying from overgrown teeth?

A veterinarian checking a rabbit's teeth if its the right lenght

As soon as you notice that your rabbit is exhibiting signs that they’re suffering from overgrown teeth, bring them to a veterinarian. Rabbits are really good at hiding pain because showing weakness in the wild would only lead to death.

Always check your rabbit’s teeth every two weeks to make sure it’s in proper length. Also, a proper diet is crucial in maintaining your rabbit’s dental health.

As I told earlier, rabbits can easily die from overgrown teeth if they develop GI stasis by refusing to eat due to pain from overgrown teeth.

Conclusion

Rabbits can die from overgrown teeth if it’s not treated because overgrown teeth could lead to more serious health conditions like GI stasis and abscess.

Always bring your rabbit to a veterinarian if you notice that your rabbit’s teeth are not normal or if they’re exhibiting the signs of a dental problem like drooling, weight loss, stool changes, uneaten cecotropes, facial abscess, eye problems, and wet paws.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (January 28, 2022) Can Rabbits Die From Overgrown Teeth?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/can-rabbits-die-from-overgrown-teeth/.
"Can Rabbits Die From Overgrown Teeth?." Bunny Horde - January 28, 2022, https://bunnyhorde.com/can-rabbits-die-from-overgrown-teeth/

Sources

  • Lop rabbit
  • Dental Disease in Rabbits
  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.

Image credit – Uwe Gille, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Rei Garnet

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.