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Rabbits/Dental Gum Disease

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Question
Hi Dana, I have a 10 year old rabbit who has chronic dental problems including gum disease - the past 2 dentals we had done the vet says that she has pus coming from her teeth - this time it has been all her teeth.  The vet says obviously we cannot pull all her teeth so we are managing it with dental trims (as needed) and then a 7 day dose of pen-g shots and pain meds as needed.  We have been doing dentals on her for about the past year and she also is having chronic watery eyes.  Luckily she will happily eat pellets (not hay or veggies) and the vet is fine with this since she's eating.  I'm wondering if you've dealt with this gum disease problem in rabbits before and what you have successfully done to manage this.  It seems I am having to take her every 2 months for trims and sedation and I know that is not the best solution but it does seem to be the only solution at this time.  

Thank you so much for any insight you may have.

Answer
Dear Sarita,

The "gum disease" sounds more like chronic tooth "root" abscesses.  Are you using dual-acting Penicillin-G Procaine/Benzathine?  If not, I would certainly ask the vet about it.  The benzathine component is long-acting, and you need inject this (subQ only, and pull back on the plunger to be sure you have not hit a blood vessel!) every 48 hours.

However, a week is likely not long enough to clear up a chronic problem like this, especially if--like most 10 year old rabbits--she has osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw and tooth sockets.

I don't actually agree that she can't live without her teeth.  If that would help with the cure, then it should be considered.  We've had toothless bunnies that live very well and happily on pellet fluff (add water to pellets and let sit for about 10 minutes to make a moist fluff, or even add warm chamomile tea to do the same).  For greens, you can put fresh stuff into a blender and chop into bits that are the same size she might chew it into herself, if she had molars.

It's something to consider.

If you're not sure your current vet is experienced enough with rabbits to deal with this, you might want to check the list linked here for a vet who can give you a second opinion:

http://www.rabbit.org/vets

I hope this helps.

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

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.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

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
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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