Overgrown Rabbit Teeth: Trimming vs Removal

rabbit incisor malocclusion

Have a look at the rabbit’s teeth in the picture above. What you can see are the lower incisors coming out of the mouth and almost touching the nose. What you can’t see are the upper incisors curling inside the mouth in a similar way.

Much further and any one of them will create a painful wound and prevent eating. Horrible! Why this happens is due to a fact that surprisingly few rabbit owners know.

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Can I Bury My Dog Or Cat At Home?

dog burial gravestone

Burying a dog or cat is an important part of the grieving process for many people. It certainly was for me. So as someone who advises it, and has done it, I was annoyed to see “Why you shouldn’t bury your pet in the backyard” featured on my ABC.

It’s the classic case of sitting in an ivory tower making the rest of Australia feel guilty for doing what comes naturally. It also says some fairly silly things. So before I give you some simple tips for a proper home burial, let’s clear them up.

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Help! My Pet Has Fleas

dog killing flea

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ Emergency Care

How To Get Rid Of Fleas

  1. Use modern flea killers recommended by vets and pet stores
  2. Remove fleas from the house and especially pet sleeping areas
  3. Keep dogs and cats on good flea control to prevent new infestations

Now dive deeper…

Do you keep finding fleas on your dog, cat, rabbit or ferret despite your best efforts? Frustrating isn’t it? It seems so simple and yet so many people have the same problem.

Why Is It So Hard To Get Rid Of Fleas?

Here are a few reasons:

  • Failing to kill every last flea
  • Heavy house & garden infestation
  • Catching fleas again

I’ll now explain each of these points…

How To Get Rid Of Fleas On Dogs

Using flea products recommended by vets is the most important step to having a flea-free pet. In many cases, it’s the only thing you need to do. The same applies for catsrabbits and ferrets.

The reason most people can’t kill every last flea is that they are using outdated products. Until the mid 1990s the only products available could not eliminate fleas. Pets with flea allergy kept on suffering. The shocking news is that these products, mainly shampoos, sprays or rinses, are still widely sold, and resistance has only grown.

However, these products aren’t perfect either. Some, like Frontline or Nexgard have been shown to kill fleas more slowly than others (or not at all in the case of Sentinel) and resistance is suspected for others. I haven’t even mentioned Capstar as it’s far too short-acting. Nowadays I get best results with the flea tablets Simparica, Bravecto or Comfortis, and Advantage still works well.

Although the new flea controls are very safe, they remain unpopular with people wanting to get rid of fleas naturally. If you want to do this, it is possible and we’ll support you, but you have to have lower expectations of success.

How To Kill Fleas In The House And Garden

Fleas on the animal are no more that 5% of the total. That other 95% comprises eggs, larvae, pupae and adults waiting to jump. These are found wherever your pet, or any other dog or cat with fleas, has been.

You don’t have to kill all the fleas in the environment to eliminate them. The weak point in the flea life cycle is the need for adults to get a blood meal in order to lay eggs. Therefore if you’re not in a hurry, all you need to do is use a good flea killer on your pet and wait.

However your pets or children may disagree. If infestation levels are high, they will keep getting a lot of bites, even if each flea then dies. You or your family may also be getting nasty itchy welts on the ankles and legs.

To learn more please visit our separate page on treating fleas in the household and garden.

Help! My Pet Keeps Catching Fleas Again

That famous jump is how fleas get on passing animals, so unless you keep your dog or cat in a glass box they will keep getting flea hitch-hikers and bringing them home for everybody to enjoy.

The good news is: once you’ve eliminated fleas from your pet and home almost any good flea control will stop reinfestation. You’ve just got to remember to do it. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Set a monthly recurring reminder on your phone
  • Use Bravecto (dogs) so you only need to remember once every three months
  • Buy from friendly local places that send reminder messages (OK, you got me there- that’s a shameless plug!)

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

Find An Adelaide Emergency Vet Open Late

Before you have an emergency, it’s good to know which after hours vet is closest and how you will get there in a hurry. There are four veterinary hospitals open 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Adelaide*. We created this clickable map by comparing travel times to each one from various locations. Please use it to get directions to your nearest vet when your regular vet is closed.

Walkerville Vet is open 8am to 6:30pm weekdays and 9am to 1pm Saturdays. Vets start consulting at 9am.

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Help! My Rabbit Won’t Eat

rabbit eating

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ Emergency Care

What To Do If A Rabbit Isn’t Eating

  1. Provide a variety of quality fresh grass hays and leafy greens
  2. Avoid processed foods, fruits, grains, sugars or lucerne hay
  3. If the appetite does not improve within 12 hours, or if the rabbit is quieter than usual please see a vet ASAP

Now dive deeper…

Rabbits that stop eating, or even start eating or pooping less are in much more danger than most people think. The most common cause is a disease called Gastrointestinal Stasis, which is the subject of this page.

Before getting to the specifics, other common causes of a poor appetite need mentioning.

Causes Of Rabbits Not Eating

  • Renal failure (often caused by lucerne hay)
  • Dental problems
  • Abscesses and pneumonia
  • Liver lobe torsion
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Gastrointestinal Stasis

Only a vet can work out the cause. Of special note is the problem telling gut stasis apart from obstruction. Most vets use a combination of blood glucose, body temperature and X-rays.

What Is Gut Stasis?

It takes a very observant bunny owner to spot the early warning signs. One of the most common causes of death in rabbits starts off looking like nothing at all.

  1. Gut stasis starts with a gradual decrease in appetite over several days
  2. Then there is a gradual reduction in the number & size of faecal pellets
  3. Affected rabbits may be hunched, quiet and grinding their teeth
  4. Death is usually caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria such as Clostridium and E. coli

It’s far more likely in rabbits on poor diets, and is often triggered by another problem. This can be dental disease, pain, injury, illness, recent surgery or stress. It can even happen to rabbits on good diets if the trigger is severe enough, like HunnyBunny’s gut stasis story.

What Causes Gut Stasis?

Rabbits are unique and special. They somehow do two opposite things at the same time:

  1. Get nutrients from low energy sources like grass and plant material
  2. Use lots of energy to stay active, breed and avoid predators

To be able to do this, they control an amazingly sophisticated gut. However, as anyone knows, ‘sophisticated’ means ‘look after it or it breaks down’. Sadly, many rabbit lovers learn this too late.

The movement of gut contents through this system relies on extremely high fibre levels and low levels of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. If you feed the opposite diet, here’s what can happen:

  1. Lack of tooth wear causes pain from overgrown teeth
  2. Rich food causes the wrong sort of bacteria to take over the gut
  3. Low fibre gut contents start to sludge into a thick residue
  4. Things slowly grind to a halt. Say hello to gut stasis

How To Treat Gut Stasis

Getting the gut moving is no easy feat and you’ll need a vet to help. However, with appropriate care, a rabbit with GI stasis has a good prognosis.

  1. Look for, and treat the underlying cause- stress, illness, pain etc
  2. Rehydrate via intravenous and oral fluids- no gut will start moving when its contents are dehydrated
  3. Offer assisted feeding to stimulate the gut- we use Oxbow critical care formulas plus leafy greens
  4. Use pain control unless you’re certain it isn’t needed (who is?!)
  5. Add pro-kinetics drugs to improve or stimulate gut movement in bunnies that need them
  6. Use antibiotics when harmful gut bacteria are involved

It’s a fallacy that GI stasis is caused by hairballs but you’ll still read about lubricants, pineapple or papaya enzymes being used. These are usually unnecessary and may even be harmful. Affected rabbits have hairballs due to their gut not moving the hair through properly in the first place.

Please don’t try to massage your rabbit’s belly either without first making sure there isn’t an obstruction.

Recovery From Gut Stasis

Once rabbits start to improve, we need to wean them onto protective diets (see below). In the beginning, highly attractive and tasty foods like leafy greens may be the only thing eaten, and should be offered even when a rabbit is in hospital.

Assisted feeding can continue as long as needed but be careful not to force the issue. If you push too hard your rabbit might actually eat less.

As soon as practical, good quality hay should be offered. It’s worth shopping around to find Timothy hay for these bunnies as it seems more attractive and easier to digest.

Some experts think a lack of exercise may also contribute to gastrointestinal stasis so the more time out of the hutch with you the better.

Lastly, what is a good rabbit diet? It’s certainly not found in rabbit mueslis and pellets.

A Good Rabbit Diet

  • High fibre, low carb pellets (maximum ¼ cup)
  • Green leafy vegetables (maximum 2 cups)
  • Unlimited amounts of good quality hay
  • Everything else (like carrots) is a treat

Amounts are for an average 2.3kg bunny

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.