Hans has malocclusion 😦
Rabbits’ upper and lower incisors (front teeth) should touch each other, with the upper incisors slightly overlapping the lower incisors. When a rabbit chews, the upper and lower incisors will grind against each other, keeping them worn down to the right length at all times.
Hans’ lower incisors are further in front from his upper incisors.
A close up of his incisors.
There are a few causes of malocclusion, the more common ones being diet, trauma to the jaw or genes.
Hans gets unlimited alfalfa and grass hay. He devours his alfalfa hay and spends a bit of time digging, tossing and chewing in his box of grass hay, so I really don’t think his diet is an issue here.
I’ve checked with the breeder whom I got Hans from. He assured me that Hans did not suffer any fall as a baby.. that rules out jaw trauma. So it’s most probably genetics. Hans is a Netherland Dwarf, a breed prone to malocclusion because of their shorter snouts.
I don’t blame the breeder. Prior to this, Hans’ parents had not produced any offspring with malocclusion. He couldn’t have known that Hans’ parents carried the malocclusion gene. I suppose, after learning about Hans’ issues, Hans parents won’t be bred anymore in the future.
Anyways.. Hans went to the vet yesterday. He wasn’t very co-operative when the vet tried to flip him onto his back. Because Hans put up quite a struggle, the vet has asked us to return next Tuesday so that he can sedate Hans to clip and grind his teeth. He will also check for molar spurs then. I really hope Hans’ condition is not bad enough for molar spurs to have formed. So far, there hasn’t been any drooling, decrease in food intake or signs of pain, which are indicators of molar spurs.
When I realised that Hans had malocclusion, I was prepared for a lifetime of teeth-trimming. But I’m not willing to send him to be sedated repeatedly, it could kill him. There was another rabbit which used to go to the vet for frequent tooth-trims under sedation. She passed away while undergoing one of these procedures.. too much anesthesia had accumulated in her body over time 😦
Please pray for the little guy when he goes in for the procedure on Tuesday. I want him to make it out OK.
I’m hoping and praying that maybe his teeth issues are a result of his upper and lower jaw developing at different rates (his teeth appeared fine when we first brought him home)… if that is the case, then there is a chance that his teeth will re-align properly upon reaching adulthood, once his skull is fully developed. But I know that there is only a very slim possibility for this.
If tooth-trims are going to be a life long event for Hans, then I will seriously consider the option of removing his incisors. Rabbits can do very well without their incisors, they quickly learn to pick up food with their lips. However, I need to discuss this much further with the vet.. right now, I’m not even sure if he is able to perform this operation. The operation is very difficult, from what I’ve read so far, only very few vets are able to successfully perform it.. and vets in Malaysia have not had very much experience with rabbits yet 😦
If anyone reading this has experience with malocclusion, please please leave a comment. I would love to hear your story.
Please pray for Hans.