Rabbits have impressive and fairly unique dentition within the animal kingdom. However, problems with their teeth can result in an array of health issues as well as cause your bunny significant discomfort. A lot of us know how painful toothache can be!
How will I know if my rabbit has a dental problem?
Being prey animals, rabbits are good at hiding signs of illness or disease. This means it can be hard to spot problems before they have escalated to a more advanced stage. If a dental issue is present, you may notice some of the following signs:
- Reduction in appetite or, in severe cases, total loss of appetite
- Reduction in the amount of faecal pellets observed
- Lethargy/reduced energy/being less interactive
- Runny eyes
- Weight loss
These signs can be caused by other diseases, but it is very important to rule out dental disease as a possible cause as it is very common loss of appetite.
How are dental problems in rabbits diagnosed?
Your vet will perform a physical examination and check for any weight loss.
How are dental problems in rabbits treated?
If your rabbit has teeth which are overgrown or there are malocclusions, it will be necessary to trim the affected teeth. This is performed using an electric burr which rotates at high speed, trimming off the overgrown dental tissue.
Your rabbit’s teeth erupt from the gumline continually throughout their lives. This means that the overgrowths will most likely recur again over time. Regular dental work will be required to prevent them causing problems in the future.
How can I prevent dental problems in my rabbits?
In the wild, rabbits will spend the majority of their time grazing. Often on various types of grass and other fibrous plants. This helps to wear down their teeth as the teeth continually erupt. So in order to prevent dental issues, the type of diet you feed your rabbit is crucial. By mimicking as much as possible the diet they would have in the wild, you will encourage healthy tooth wear. This means that the majority of your rabbit’s diet should consist of good quality “long fibre”. Often in the form of hay. Rabbits should also have access to grass in a sizeable outdoor run, and a varied selection of green vegetables. A small amount of pelleted commercial rabbit food can be given (approximately one eggcup per day). Muesli-type foods should be avoided. Rabbits tend to pick and choose the parts they like and leave the rest, which can contribute to dental issues as well as other problems such as obesity.
If you have any concerns about your rabbit’s teeth or require advice on their diet, your vet will be happy to advise you. As with a lot of problems, prevention of dental issues in rabbits is better than cure!
Keeping your pet’s teeth and gums clean and healthy can help to prevent periodontal disease and other serious health problems down the road. Here’s what you can expect when your pet gets a dental cleaning.
Before the procedure
You and your veterinarian will discuss your pet’s medical history and your vet will perform a complete physical exam. They may also take a sample of blood (and possibly urine, too) for a laboratory work-up. Your vet will discuss possible procedures to identify and treat the underlying dental problems including dental cleaning or scaling, periodontal probing, dental x-rays, and others. They will also polish the teeth to provide a pearly white smile!
Your veterinarian will give you exact instructions, but you may be asked to withhold food from your pet the evening prior to the procedure to reduce the chance that your pet may vomit during the procedure. The duration of time recommended will vary depending on your pet’s age, pre-existing medical conditions, or any medications they are on.
During the procedure
Unlike when you go to the dentist, to get the best evaluation and dental care, our pets need to be anesthetized during their dental procedure. Anesthesia is necessary because it allows your pet to be still so your vet can conduct a thorough examination of the whole oral cavity (including below the gumline), take x-rays (to look for “hidden diseases”), and fully and safely clean your pet’s teeth. This also ensures a safe and comfortable experience for your pet by reducing their level of anxiety, stress, and pain. In addition, it protects their airway from any water or debris caused by scaling away the dental plaque that might otherwise find its way down into your pet’s lungs during the procedure.
Expect to drop your pet off at the veterinary clinic early to get them settled in and have their pre-anesthesia exam. Your vet may administer “pre-meds” (medications that can help to decrease anxiety, pain, vomiting, and even the amount of other drugs needed to provide general anesthesia).
After the procedure
After your dog or cat’s dental procedure, your vet will review everything that was performed during the dental procedure with you. If there is an infection or if your pet has an underlying condition that makes them more susceptible to infection, your vet may give or prescribe an antibiotic. Pain medication may also be provided as there can be some level of inflammation and discomfort following a dental procedure.
Your vet may prescribe or send you home with:
- Pain medication
- Recommended dental diet
- Recommended dental chews
- Recommended toothbrush/toothpaste
- Dental pads or wipes
Your vet may recommend feeding just soft food for several days after the procedure if there were any extractions, to allow the extraction sites to heal as best as possible. If extractions happen — or even if not — there may be a recheck appointment needed a week or so later to ensure that all is healing and progressing as best as possible.
Once your pet is discharged and you take them home, you may notice some grogginess, drooling, or drowsiness for several hours. They’re typically almost back to normal that evening and should definitely be back to their normal self (often even better, as the discomfort their dental and periodontal disease had been causing them is now gone!) by the next day. If at any point you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian for advice.
An anesthetized dental procedure with your vet is just one step to ensuring a healthy mouth for your pet. Your vet will go over best methods of at-home dental care going forward after the procedure.
Don’t forget, we are offering £50 off all dental treatment in February as well as 10% off dental chews and dental dietary food!
To celebrate dental awareness month we will be offering a £50 discount on all dental treatment! If you are already booked in for a procedure, we will honour the voucher for your appointment. This event will be running from the 21st February – 28th February (we will also honour any bookings made in February but for a later date up to 2 months later).
Why might my pet need a dental?
The answer to this question is not so easy without an examination but generally speaking the main factor for needing a dental is age, smelly breath, pain when chewing or an accident. We always recommend a Veterinary consultation before making an appointment for an operation. This means the vet can go through a treatment plan and we can discuss costs and aftercare.
Are there any terms and conditions to this offer?
You must be a registered client or if you are a new client, then we must have your clinical history (don’t worry, we can request this, just let us know your previous vet) and we would recommend an examination before booking a surgery. No code is needed for the offer, we will discount your treatment by £50 – as simple as that!
Can Orchard House Vets give me an estimate?
We certainly can. We again would recommend a dental examination before any treatment plan or an estimate, we are then able to provide your estimate!
Is my pet obese?
Obesity can be defined as an excess of body fat that is enough to impair health, welfare and quality of life.
Checking if your dog is overweight
To check if your dog is overweight, there are a few simple checks you can do:
- You should be able to see and feel the outline of your dog’s ribs without excess fat covering.
- You should be able to see and feel your dog’s waist and it should be clearly visible when viewed from above.
- Your dog’s belly should be tucked up when viewed from the side.
- If your dog does not pass these checks, or if you are in any doubt, consult your vet. They will be able to provide a health check and if necessary recommend a weight reduction programme.
Checking if your cat is overweight
Check to see if your cat is overweight using the steps below:
- You should be able to see and feel your cats ribs, spine and hip bones.
- Your cats waist should be clearly visible when viewed from above.
- Your cats belly shouldn’t be sagging underneath, there should only be a small amount of belly fat.
- If your cat doesn’t pass these checks speak to your vet who will be able to provide a health check and if necessary recommend a weight-loss programme to help them get back into tip-top condition.
Checking if my rabbit is overweight
- Rabbits with round heads often have chunky bodies, but no rabbit should have little head perched on a huge body.
- A male rabbit with a dewlap, or a female rabbit with a huge dewlap is very likely too fat (although the oversize dewlap will often persist after weight is lost).
- Obese rabbits may have fatty pads on their shoulders, legs and groins.
- Internal fat is more difficult to see but large pot bellies indicate a problem. If you pet your rabbit very firmly, you should be able to feel their ribs under a firm layer of muscle.
- If they look wider than they are long they are seriously fat.
- If they can’t keep their bottom clean, you need to act quickly. Keep their bottom clean for them, and get your vet/vet nurse to devise a weight loss programme
Why does it matter if my pet is overweight?
We believe obesity is a serious welfare issue in pets because it can cause suffering and can be extremely disabling. It’s also likely to affect your pet’s ability to perform natural behaviours (e.g. exercise normally).
Are certain pets more likely to be obese?
Several factors make obesity more likely in pets. E.g. for dogs:
Breed – certain breeds have a higher risk.
Age – the risk increases with age.
Neuter status – neutered dogs are more at risk.
Sex – apart from older dogs, obesity is reported to be more common in females.
Owner – obese owners may be more likely to have obese dogs, perhaps because they are less likely to exercise their dog, or less able to recognise obesity.
Similar factors may also be associated with other animals.
Obesity can affect all types of pet, and the main cause is from eating too much or not exercising enough, although some diseases can cause obesity.
To help prevent obesity in your pet ensure they maintain a healthy diet and receive plenty of exercise. If you’re concerned about your pets weight contact us.
Orchard House Vets Top Tips
To keep on top of your little one’s weight, follow these tips:
- Weigh out food portions every time
- Feed an appropriate diet
- Don’t go overboard on the treats
- Encourage as much play time and exercise as possible
- Check your furry friend’s Body Condition Score regularly.
What do Orchard House Vets do to help?
At your vaccination appointments, our Veterinary Surgeons will weigh your pet and advise you on whether they are at a healthy weight. If not, they will offer advice on what to do. They may even refer you to one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses who will be able to give you a comprehensive guide on maintaining puppy or kitten diets!
We also have our Well Pet Club which will allow regular weight checks with our nurses included in the monthly direct debit. Please do note this is different to a weight consultation, which is much more comprehensive but a weight check is a brilliant tool for keeping on top of a pet’s weight!
We offer FREE puppy and kitten checks, so after a couple of days of bringing your furry friend, book in an appointment to see our Veterinary Surgeons and make sure you bring a list of questions to ask! It is the perfect time to do so. During your 15 minute appointment, the vet will do a thorough health check of your pet and we can then discuss our brilliant Well Pet Club, as well as offer you 4 weeks free insurance through Petplan. We encourage clients to make use of these outstanding services!
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is a measure of the force that your heart uses to pump blood around your body. This is exactly the same in animals.
But what does that MEAN?
It can be helpful to think of blood-vessels in terms of central heating pipes, with a pump (in this case, the heart) to push blood around it. The more water being pushed through a pipe at once, the higher the pressure. Sometimes the pressure goes too high, with more water in the pipe than the pipe can cope with. This might damage the pipes, putting pressure on them from the inside. If there is a weakness in the pipe or seal somewhere, it might spring a leak
Why might the pressure be too high in a vein?
Perhaps water is not leaving the body as it should be doing through the kidneys.
Alternatively, the pipes in an area might be too narrow (for example, in a damaged liver or heart), increasing resistance to blood flow and a build-up of pressure behind.
The adrenal gland, which plays a part in regulating blood pressure, may be damaged, or high sugar in the bloodstream may change the water balance (in diabetes). There are other rare mechanisms that may be involved.
So what happens if the pressure is too high?
- If blood pressure goes high once or twice, the body has mechanisms (e.g. in the kidneys) to redress the balance. But if the blood pressure is consistently a little too high, or goes extremely high just once, then more permanent damage can occur.
- The blood vessels will be overloaded, encouraging blood to leak through the blood vessel walls into places where blood wouldn’t normally go. Even if it doesn’t leak, the extra blood pushing on the blood vessel walls from inside, can impact on the tissues surrounding the vessel.
- When this happens in the eye, animals may go blind. In the brain, there may be ‘wobbly’ episodes, depression, head-tilts, circling, staggering or even fitting.
- Water will be forced out at the kidneys, causing an excess of urination and over time, damaging the kidney, even leading to kidney failure
- The pump (the heart) may have to work harder, leading to cardiac damage
- And to fluid build-up in the lungs
- Unexplained nose-bleeds may occur
How about LOW blood pressure?
On the other hand, if the pressure drops too low, it is difficult for the fluid / blood in the system to get to wherever it’s going. We’ve all been in those old houses where you turn a tap on and wait for the water to arrive. When it does, it might come in fits and starts. You wouldn’t want this to happen to the blood flow in an animal’s body.
What happens if the pressure is too low?
- Blood (carrying oxygen and fuel) will get to the brain and other body tissues less reliably.
- Even when it gets there, oxygen and nutrients might pass less reliably into the body’s cells.
- This includes the brain cells, leading to confusion and in-coordination.
- And the muscle cells, leading a drop in activity, fatigue and collapse.
- The gums may appear pale because less blood is getting to them
- Furthermore, there will be an increase in thirst in order to correct the problem.
- There may be faster, shallow breathing
What causes this?
Blood pressure goes low when there is not enough blood to fill the blood vessels. Reasons for this include (but are not limited to):
- A major leak in the system somewhere, i.e. a large bleed
- Kidneys not working properly – water that shouldn’t, escaping
- Not enough water in the system (severe dehydration)
- The heart pumping inadequately
- The blood vessels dilating e.g. in anaphylactic shock
There is an ideal blood pressure for an animal’s body and it is a good idea not stray too far outside it, for too long.
Some animals, for example those with chronic underlying illnesses, are at a greater risk of this happening than others.Sometimes, blood pressure may go too high or low suddenly e.g. in the event of a bleed. The body has mechanisms to ‘put itself right,’ but if it doesn’t, the consequences can be severe. If you have any concerns, contact us!
What Causes Obesity in Rabbits?
Overeating is typically the reason for obesity in rabbits but this factor alone may not affect a very active rabbit. Rabbits need to take in more calories than they are exerting in order to pack on the pounds and since many pet rabbits are unfortunately caged for the majority of their lives, obesity is a common problem when they don’t get the exercise they need.
Sugary treats are also contributors to the obesity problem in pet rabbits and are marketed as cute but the fact is your rabbit doesn’t care what their food looks like. But many pet owners give in to the gimmicks and want to give their rabbits whatever the pet store has to offer.
Being stationary is the main culprit for obesity in every species. Rabbits are made to jump and run but too often we keep them contained in small cages or only allow them to hop and binky for short periods of time. This lack of energy exertion can create a multitude of problems for your rabbit and also gives them nothing to do but eat, sleep, and gain weight.
How Can You Tell if Your Rabbit is Obese?
Being obese means that your rabbit has more body fat than is healthy for their body size. Each rabbit species has a different set of breed standards that tell you what a normal size and weight of that particular breed should be. These standards should be used as a guideline to help you and your veterinarian judge whether or not your rabbit weighs an appropriate amount.
By assigning a body condition score to your rabbit you will be better enabled to monitor your rabbit’s weight. A body condition score is a number that correlates to certain physical attributes and most body condition score scales are a one through five with three being ideal. A rabbit that you can feel but not easily see the ribs on is typically a three. The easiest way to tell if the ribs stick out too much (if they are too prominent it means your rabbit is underweight) is to compare feeling your rabbit’s ribs to your closed fist. Make a fist with your hand and then feel the knuckles. If the ribs feel like this your rabbit is too skinny. Now feel your fingers (where your rings would normally sit on your hand) while your fist is still clenched. This is what it should feel like on a rabbit that has an ideal body condition score. If you cannot feel your rabbit’s ribs or you have to push hard to feel them then your rabbit is overweight. We can help you with this process if you are not sure of it.
Remember, we are offering 50% off nurse weight clinics through January, so book your phone consultation today!
We would be here for hours if we listed everything a Registered Veterinary Nurse does in a day!
Why is a nurse weight consultation important?
Pet obesity is on the rise and so many health problems can occur because of obesity. We want to promote a happy and healthy pet and give our patients the longest and best life they can possibly have!
What happens in a weight clinic?
Ordinarily, our Nurses would take the measurements on your pet to do what we call a “body score”. They can then determine if a “diet” is required. The next step would be to ask you a few questions such as, how much food do you feed? What brand of food do you use? How often do you feed your pet? The reasons we ask these questions is so that we can research the food and see what the ideal amount of food per day would be for weight loss. The data they get from this means they can tailor make a plan to help your pet lose weight and reach a more ideal weight.
Deciding to take control of your pet’s weight issue is a great start. With support from your local veterinary team and family members (who must all agree to stick to the weight loss regime) helping your pet lose weight doesn’t need to be difficult.
WHY IS BEING OVERWEIGHT A PROBLEM?
Excess weight can lead to heart disease, diabetes, painful joints and a reduced lifespan. Even being slightly overweight can be a problem despite the common misconception that pets need a bit of extra weight as ‘reserves’ for when they are poorly.
LONGER WALKS WILL HELP, RIGHT?
Unfortunately, although exercise can help to improve muscle tone and fitness, increasing exercise duration does not have the huge impact on weight that many of us think it does. The most important factor to control when it comes to weight loss is the total amount of calories consumed. This is especially important for dogs or cats that cannot exercise due to arthritis or other health conditions.
WHAT STEPS CAN I TAKE TO HELP MY PET LOSE WEIGHT?
- REDUCE THEIR CALORIE INTAKE
In order for a dog or cat to lose weight they have to be eating less calories than they need on a daily basis i.e. they burn off more calories than they take in, this is known as a negative energy balance. The feeding guidelines on a pack/can of dog and cat food is the total amount required per 24 hours and includes enough energy for any exercise they may do. General energy needs include calories for exercise and activity, however for weight loss you just need to feed enough calories for the body weight you want your dog or cat to be. A rough rule of thumb is to feed 70% of the feeding guidelines suggested for their target weight. i.e. if your dog is overweight at 15kg but should weigh 10Kg then you should feed the amount suggested for a 7Kg dog.
- KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES THEY NEED & COUNT THEM
The more accurate way to calculate feeding amounts is to use an online calculator or speak to your practice veterinary nurse to work out how many calories and how much food your pet should be eating per day. You need to feed the amount suggested for your dog or cat’s ideal/target weight not their current weight.
- KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN WHAT YOU’RE FEEDING
In addition to knowing how many calories your dog or cat requires, you also need to know how many calories are in the food, treats and any other rewards you give. We will be posting a new blog on how to work this out shortly, however you can also phone the manufacturer helpline on your bag of food or ask your local veterinary team to help with calculations.
- CONSIDER A CHANGE IN DIET
You might want to consider changing your pet to a ‘light’ or weight control diet. To help control their hunger these diets often have added fibre and/or increased protein levels and a lower calorie content per 100g. This will allow you to cut down on the volume of food without them feeling like they are being starved. For more information, see our article on ingredients to look for in weight reduction diets.
- WEIGH OUT THE FOOD
Studies have shown that the amount of food can be overestimated by up to 80% when using cups, so for accuracy we recommend using kitchen weighing scales to weigh out daily portions.
- IT IS STILL OKAY TO FEED TREATS
Yes! Feeding treats is an important part of your relationship with your pet and it is completely allowed. Just be sure to include any treats, chews or table scraps in the daily recommended amount of calories you feed.
- COPE WITH PESTER POWER!
Deal with those big brown eyes and ‘that look’ by making mealtimes fun instead of just giving them an extra treat.Puzzle feeders or scatter feeding can help slow down greedy eaters and enrich mealtimes to prevent boredom. You might also find that splitting the daily amount up will help. For adult dogs we suggest splitting the daily amount into 2-3 meals per day. For cats you can allow them to graze or offer small frequent meals as long as the daily amount is adhered to.
Check your pets weight every 2-3 weeks. The ideal weight loss is 3-5% of their body weight per month. If there is no weight loss after 3 weeks then you might need to readjust the feeding amounts.
- DON’T HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP
We are here to help! Contact us if you are concerned about your pet’s weight.