Rabbits/help for bunny with severe dental problems
Expert: Dana Krempels, Ph.D. - 12/19/2012
My bunny has severe dental problems - it started with a maloclusion that ended up with abscesses on the head that spread to the eye - antibiotics did nothing so after several vets giving different opinions - she went to get her molars out on the side of the head that was really abcessed. The vet took all the cheek molars out and it seemed after surgery she was fine - not eating at first but then eating soft food like crazy and drinking lots of water - then suddenly (one week after surgery - she is getting duplicillin shots and metacam for pain) she stopped eating. Afraid that she had GI I took her to the vet today and the vet has said she didn't think it was that but gave her some fluids, some vitamin shots and told me to put her on critical care. She thinks that all the teeth are infected and all cheek teeth have to come out (all the right are out now) and now she says the left have to come out. (She had an abscess on the left as well but I didn't think it was effecting the teeth). The rabbits from not eating is now really thin so she agreed to wait for the second operation until she is faring better (if she does) but I am really hesitant about this. Can my rabbit survive without any teeth at all (except for the front teeth) I know she can eat soft food (she pretty well has been doing this for a long time) but it is not that nutritious and of course she is missing out on not eating hay so this I guess would have to be supplemented. The vet I am dealing with now is a very good dental surgeon but I don't know about her rabbit knowledge. She was really hesitant to do the surgery but I insisted on it because I wanted to give her a chance - she is a rescue rabbit that had a really hard life living on the grounds of UVIC so probably missed out on a lot of nutrition in her early life thus the bad teeth. If she starts eating again (I am syringe feeding her critical care now)and makes it through this I am really wondering about the remaining teeth coming out.
Answer Dear Kathleen,
A bunny can live just fine without molars, and we've had several who did great. You need to provide a very high quality pelleted food that you will have to soak in water for about 10 minutes before serving, then fluff with a fork to make a nice, damp fluff. She will be able to handle this well, and it should provide her with pretty much complete nutrition.
For fresh food, you can put greens in a food processor or blender and pulse to make it into tiny bits that are almost like chewed food, and give her a mix of all the greens you'd ordinarily give her: parsley, kale, cilantro, mint, basil, etc. Even carrots and a bit of apple or banana as a treat.
If the molars are all truly infected, this might be the best way to go, and she could live a long life without the pain of infected teeth. You'll have to keep an eye on her incisors to make sure they wear normally once the molars are gone, but those are pretty easy to maintain, compared to molars.
I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:
RULE #1: THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.
If your rabbits is LETHARGIC
If your rabbit is NOT EATING
If your rabbit is PHYSICALLY INJURED (including broken bones)
I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years.
I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM.
I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.
Organizations Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president
National House Rabbit Society (Board member)
Publications Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide
Education/Credentials Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English
Awards and Honors Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology