Stock up on hay

The basis of your rabbits’ – always keep them in pairs – diet should be hay, so provide an unlimited supply. Fresh grass is also good. As well as keeping rabbit digestive systems healthy, hay needs a great deal of chewing, which helps to wear down teeth, especially the back ones. Also, provide plenty of fresh leafy greens and small amounts of a commercial rabbit food. Fruit and sweet vegetables, such as carrots, should be a treat and certainly not constitute a major part of the diet.

Twigs and chews

Some, although not all, rabbits also enjoy demolishing hard chews, such as twigs and chunks of wood. If your rabbits have a gnawing habit, indulge it with a steady supply of chews, as these also wear down teeth, not to mention giving your rabbits an alternative to your best furniture. Not all wood is safe, though. Avoid toxic woods, such as yew, and anything that has been chemically treated or painted. Safe woods include apple, pear, willow and poplar. Among the many potentially toxic woods are walnut, cedar and those from stone fruit trees, such as cherry and peach.

Ask your vet

During the initial veterinary checkup, ask the vet to show you how to examine your rabbits’ teeth and explain what problems to look for – this is something that should be demonstrated in person. Your vet can also advise whether an individual rabbit might be more prone to tooth problems, in which case include a monthly dental check as part of your care routine.

When to call the vet

If your rabbits have healthy teeth, it’s normally sufficient just to have your vet check them about once a year, perhaps when you get their vaccinations done. Also, keep an eye on your rabbits’ eating habits. If a rabbit appears to have difficulty eating or has started eating only soft foods, call the vet. The same goes if he stops eating or starts eating less – this could be a sign of illness, overgrown teeth or digestive problems, and is an emergency. If rabbits don’t eat, they are in serious trouble. Just 24 hours without eating can cause them to develop potentially fatal digestive problems.

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