Obesity and Weight Management

With nearly 50% of our pet population clinically assessed as being overweight or obese, it is more important than ever to monitor how much and what type of food we feed our pets.

There are many reasons attributing to our pets becoming overweight and occasionally this can be down to medical reasons but as with humans the most common reason is overeating-consuming more calories than they actually need and use!

Several factors can make it more likely that your pet will become overweight including lack of exercise, overfeeding during their growth period (increasing the number of fat cells the body produces), their breed, age and whether they have been neutered. Neutered animals require up to a 30% reduction in their daily feeding requirements as their energy needs decrease dramatically after neutering.

Although an overweight pet may seem extra cuddly to you, being overweight can lead to serious health problems including:

  • Joint and mobility problems-including cruciate disease and arthritis
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • FLUTD in cats-Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder
  • Decreased quality and length of life

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

Often pet owners do not realise their pet has gained a few grammes or kilos as you are used to seeing them every day and don’t notice the changes. Your veterinary surgeon will usually notice any changes in your pet’s weight at their annual booster appointment and this can be a good time to address any issues there may be about your pet’s weight. Being even a few kilos overweight can cause vital body organs to become encased in fat, reducing their ability to function considerably.

Many studies have been carried out on overweight pets with Royal Canin at The University of Liverpool. They perform special scans called DEXA scans (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry). These analyse the animal’s body composition including the amount of fat present.

In a healthy pet you should be able to comfortably see and feel their ribs and waistline. You may have noticed subtle changes such as reluctance to play or exercise as much which can all be indications of being overweight.

At Cinque Ports Vets we will happily check your pets’ weight and offer any help and advice needed at our Weight Clubs. We will also help you assess your pet using a Body Condition Score Chart like the example below. A healthy pet should score 4-5/9.

How can I help my pet lose weight?

The first step would be attending one of our weight clubs to establish how much weight your pet would need to lose. If your pet is only slightly overweight a simple reduction in your pet’s everyday diet or treats and an increase in their exercise and activity levels may be all that is required.

If however your pet has a substantial amount of weight to lose your veterinary surgeon or nurse may recommend a change in their diet to a prescription calorie controlled diet. Your veterinary nurse will calculate a tailor made weight loss program to help your pet lose weight. Depending on the amount of weight to lose this can take from 12 weeks to 12 months. It is very important for the health of your pet that they lose weight safely and slowly to ensure that they only lose fat tissue instead of muscle mass.  It is helpful to attend the club every 2-3 weeks so your veterinary nurse can assess this. It is not advisable to drastically reduce your pet’s usual food as this reduces the amount of nutrients they receive and can affect their health.

Once your pet has successfully lost weight they will be put on a weight maintenance program to help ensure that the weight doesn’t come back! Unfortunately your pet will always be prone to gaining weight easily if their diet isn’t strictly controlled but your veterinary nurse can help and advise on which feeding regime will most suit your pet after their diet.

Tips for exercising your dog

  • Regular and appropriate exercise is vital for maintaining your dog’s health and is especially important for weight loss. If your pet is overweight it is important to introduce extra exercise slowly. Begin with their usual exercise and try adding an extra 5 minutes. If your pet copes well with this increase for a week or so you can try increasing to the next level.
  • Overweight dogs with joint disorders will probably find uneven and hilly walks uncomfortable and too strenuous. If it becomes difficult to increase their exercise, hydrotherapy can be helpful.
  • Make sure you play with your dog and their favourite toy for at least 5 minutes every day.
  • Use treat toys to make your dog work harder for their food but remember to make sure the food is taken from their daily allowance.

Tips for exercising your cat

  • Make sure your cat’s indoor environment has plenty of toys and activities, allowing natural behaviour such as climbing or hunting. Activity centres can be useful as this provides exercise opportunities even when you are out.
  • Buy a few extra cat toys- make sure you rotate them every few days as cats easily lose interest. 
  • Playing with your cat using a fishing toy or a feather tickle stick are great ways of encouraging exercise and your cat will benefit from spending time with you.  Cats are designed to have short bursts of energy so playtime only needs to last a few minutes each session.
  • Use see through treat balls (cats need to see the kibble to encourage play) to make your cat work harder for their food and try moving their feeding bowls to unusual locations to make them search for their meals.
  • Groom your cat- this is great for circulation and their coat.
  • Remember table scraps are inappropriate for pets-especially those on a weight loss program!
  • Tasty low calorie treats are available from your veterinary practice. Educ treats are less than 3 kcal per treat and are suitable for both puppies and adult dogs. These are an ideal substitute for your pet’s usual snack.

Take a look at this list of unhealthy snacks given to pets and what they mean in human terms.

Human Equivalent

Number of hamburgers

Number of chocolate bars (50g)

Snacks fed to a 10kg dog

1 small plain biscuit

1

1

1 slice of buttered toast

1

1

30g (1oz) cheddar cheese

1.5

1.5

Snacks fed to a 4.5kg cat

1 crisp

0.5 0.5

30g (1oz) cheddar cheese

3.5

4

1 cup of milk 4.5

5

Real weight loss success stories

Many pet owners have taken the step of helping their pets to lose weight successfully, along with the help of Cinque Ports Vets.

Echo Murkin

Echo is a 13 year old neutered, female Cairn Terrier. Following an investigation which included blood tests and X-rays, she was diagnosed with emphysema. Echo had been persistently coughing with considerable breathing difficulties and at the time she weighed 13kg with a Body Condition Score of 8/9.
After discussion with her owner alongside starting medication, a weight loss plan was introduced. Echo was started on Royal Canin Obesity diet to be divided into two meals a day along with a dental chew. No other treats or table scraps were allowed!
Although Echo was unable to undertake vigorous exercise due to her condition, she was exercised on a daily basis. She regularly attended the weight management club and continued with her prescription diet.
Her symptoms have completely resolved and Echo now has a perfect Body Condition Score of 4/9 and weighs 9.9kg!

 
Useful links:
www.royalcanin.co.uk/downloads/vetlibrary/obese_and_overweight_pets_advice.PDF

Useful books:
Caring for an overweight cat by Andrea Harvey and Samantha Taylor

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

FLUTD is the name used for a collection of common conditions affecting the cat’s bladder and/or urethra. The urethra is the narrow tube which carries urine from the bladder to the outside. Included in this description is cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).

The signs shown by cats with FLUTD are often similar regardless of the cause.

Clinical signs

  • Difficulty, pain or crying when passing urine
  • Passing urine more frequently
  • Passing only small amounts of urine
  • Passing urine in inappropriate places
  • Straining before, during and after urination
  • Passing bloody urine
  • Behavioural changes and/or aggression
  • Inability to pass urine
  • Increased grooming of the hind end, possibly due to pain in that area

Most commonly FLUTD is seen in middle aged and overweight cats although it can occur in cats of any age. Both male and female cats are prone, however neutered cats are more susceptible, with males having a greater risk of complete urinary tract blockage.

Causes of FLUTD

There are many causes including:

  • Urinary stones or crystals forming in the urine which then irritate the bladder lining
  • Urethral plugs that form in the male cat’s urethra causing a blockage
  • Muscle spasm in the wall of the urethra
  • Abnormalities in the structure of the urinary tract
  • Stress and behavioural issues
  • Cancer of the bladder or urethra
  • Disease affecting the nerves controlling the bladder
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Certain cheaper varieties of pet foods may increase the chance of developing FLUTD in susceptible cats

Diagnosis

We need to investigate all potential causes of FLUTD. This is important to ensure that the most appropriate treatment is provided. In 60-70% of cases seen it is not possible to find an underlying cause and this is called Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC). Your veterinary surgeon will require a thorough history to establish which signs your cat is displaying and when they are occurring. A full examination is then performed, where your cat’s bladder and other organs are checked. Bloods are usually taken to check for diseases such as kidney disease and diabetes. A urine sample is then collected to examine its concentration, acidity and the presence of crystals, protein, red and white bloods cells and bacteria (infection). Once the veterinary surgeon has these results, treatment can usually be started but if the clinical signs reoccur or there is no improvement, further investigations will be required.

The next step usually involves X-rays or an ultrasound scan to assess the bladder, urethra and kidneys to try and locate the exact site of the problem.

Treatment of FLUTD

Depending on the underlying cause, treatment can vary considerably.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)
Once all other potential causes have been excluded a diagnosis of FIC is made. Cats make frequent attempts to urinate, often with blood in their urine due to bladder discomfort unfortunately with no medical cause. It can be a painful condition and once treated, measures should be undertaken to prevent a recurrence once the problem has resolved. Stress is an extremely important flare factor in FIC and can be anything from an environmental change to a new cat moving in to the street. See below for reducing stress and also Feline House Soiling. Veterinary recommended supplements are also available to help repair the lining of the irritated bladder wall and relax your cat.

Bacterial infection
This will be treated with a course of antibiotics. Usually repeat urine samples will be requested to check that the infection has cleared before stopping the antibiotics.

Urinary crystals or stones
If these are found to be present in your cat’s urine, a change in your cat’s diet will be required usually to a prescription diet which will be able to dissolve them. If bladder stones have formed from the crystals joining together, then surgery may be required to remove them as they may be too large to dissolve. The diet can be fed long term if required to help prevent the problem from recurring again.

Muppet presented to us with blood in his urine and a history of straining to urinate. After an investigation which included a urine sample, an X-Ray and an exploratory laparotomy, Muppet was found to have 11 substantial bladder stones. An incision was made into his bladder and the stones removed. He made a full recovery and is maintained on a prescription urinary diet to prevent the problem from recurring again.

Urethral obstruction
This is a life threatening medical emergency. A blockage of the urethra means the cat is unable to pass urine causing it to back up to the kidneys severely affecting their function. This very quickly leads to collapse and eventually death if left untreated. Once diagnosed, the blockage will be treated immediately usually under anaesthesia and your cat will remain in hospital for several days depending on the severity.

Reducing stress
Stress is a very important ‘flare factor’ which owners often overlook in treating a cat with FLUTD or FIC. Changes in diet, environment and weather, for example snow making your cat unwilling to urinate outside with no provision of a tray indoors, overcrowding, bullying, owner stress and new additions to the household are all triggers which can cause a flare up of FLUTD to a cat prone to the disease.
Stress associated with urination, for example cat owners who do not allow their cat to have a litter tray in the house, an unsuitable position for the litter tray (ie, in a noisy or busy part of the house) or even unsuitable litter in the tray are all factors that should be considered when caring for your cat. Also competition for the tray itself in a multi cat household should also be considered and more than one litter tray provided.

Pheromone treatment can often be helpful. Feliway is a synthetic copy of the facial pheromone used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure. Feliway creates a state of familiarity and security in the cat’s local environment. This pheromone has been proved to provide comfort to adult cats in stressful times.

Zylkene is derived from a milk protein which has a similar post prandial calming effect that you would see in a kitten after it has received a milk feed from its mother.

Royal Canin manufacture a ‘Calm’ diet which can be used as a support for behavioural therapy. The diet contains active ingredients alpha-easozepine and l-tryptophan (a serotonin precursor that helps to support a relaxed mood) which are proved to be beneficial in anxiety disorders. Prebiotics are also included to help encourage friendly bacteria in the gut to reduce stress diarrhoea. Other supplements containing similar nutrients may also be recommended.

Your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets can offer advice on how best to reduce your cat’s stress so please feel free to ask for any information.

Other recommendations
Increasing your cat’s water consumption to help dilute the urine can help. This can be done by adding in some wet food to the diet and making sure your cat has free access to water. Water fountains can be useful for encouraging your cat to drink as they constantly move and recycle the water making it more appealing to your cat.

Some varieties of cheaper pet foods, may increase the chance of developing FLUTD in susceptible cats.

Ideally a high quality pet food should be fed which actively promotes urinary tract health by keeping the pH of the urine less acidic. We would recommend the Royal Canin Feline Vetcare range as this food has been developed to have an S/O Index which indicates that the food helps provide an environment unfavourable to the development of struvite and calcium oxalate crystals.

Controlled weight loss is also important as well as increasing exercise to help with long term control.
Most cats with FLUTD lead a relatively normal life as long as appropriate lifestyle changes and sometimes treatment are implemented. Depending on the individual case your cat may be prone to occasional recurrences.

Useful links:
www.icatcare.org/advice-centre/cat-health/feline-lower-urinary-tract-disease-flutd-signs-causes-and-investigation
www.icatcare.org/advice-centre/cat-health/feline-lower-urinary-tract-disease-flutd-treatment
www.icatcare.org/advice-centre/cat-health/feline-idiopathic-cystitis-fic
www.feliway.com
www.royalcanin.co.uk
www.royalcanin.co.uk/dietary management

Feeding Your Puppy

How to feed?

The food you feed your puppy and dog is one of the most important things you can do for their health. Recent advances in nutrition have played a key role in helping pets live longer and healthier. Your puppy’s growth rate varies depending on their size and breed. For this reason feeding according to your puppy’s particular needs is crucial to maintain a perfect balance and avoid nutritional excesses or deficiencies. During this important stage in your puppy’s life, profound changes occur and development needs to be closely monitored.

Once weaned from mum, your puppy’s digestive system is still immature and they are not yet ready to digest large amounts of food. Overlooking this can lead to serious digestive disorders. During their growth phase your puppy’s energy needs are greater than those of an adult dog. Their diet should be strictly controlled to reduce the risk of obesity and joint disorders caused by excess weight.

Your puppy should be fed up to four meals a day until the age of four months at evenly spaced intervals to avoid overstretching their small stomachs. This can then be reduced to three and then two meals by the time they are six months old. Food should not be left down all the time and uneaten food should be moved after 20 minutes. It is also important not to vary feeding times and types of food fed as this will cause problems with your puppy’s digestive system and toilet training regime. You must always make sure they have access to water at all times.

What to feed?

Your breeder may have given you advice on what your puppy’s diet has been and it is advisable not to change this too suddenly although you should make sure that your puppy is moved onto a complete and balanced good quality puppy food as soon as possible. Any advice given about feeding human food ie milk, eggs or Weetabix should be stopped as soon as convenient as these are not necessary ingredients in your puppy’s diet and do not provide any nutritional benefits.

Depending on the breed and size of your puppy they should be fed a complete puppy food until they are at least six months of age. After this your dog can move onto an adult food to continue their optimum development.

A large breed puppy, a puppy that will be over 25kg when fully grown, should move onto a Junior food instead of an adult food until they are at least 15 months of age. This is because they are still growing and require additional nutritional support for their joints and development.

At Cinque Ports Vets we recommend the Royal Canin Pediatric/Junior Vet Care Nutrition range. We work closely with Royal Canin to make sure we are able to provide you with the best pet food available for your new addition. All staff members are fully trained to offer advice and support on your puppy’s dietary needs. The Vet Care range of food is a good quality, highly nutritional puppy food which provides support for your puppy’s digestive system and natural defences by a complex of antioxidants. The kibble size and shape is also tailored to suit the size of your puppy.

As a veterinary practice we are aware that there are a wide range of complete dry puppy foods on the market and the quality varies widely. It can be very daunting trying to decide which brand to choose. Pet foods currently available on the market, range from economy brands to premium. Economy brands are a much cheaper option to buy but do not provide optimum nutrition with generally a larger volume needing to be fed. This in turn can mean a larger volume of faecal output due to their poor digestibility.

Premium foods are consistently made of high quality ingredients of a high nutrient and energy density which means you can feed a lower volume. They are also made with a fixed formula which means the same source of for example protein (chicken) is used in each bag. These foods suit puppies delicate digestive system well. The cheaper economy foods have a fixed receipe which means they use the cheapest source of for example protein (chicken) available at the time. It isn’t necessary to declare the levels of minerals like phosphorus, sodium, potassium, sugar and starch on the packaging but the more premium pet foods do, which aids in deciding on a suitable pet food for your pet’s lifestage. Although the premium foods may appear more expensive to buy, you do not need to feed the large amounts which are required from a lower grade food, so many of them actually work out to cost the same if not less! Remember all pet foods provide nutrition but the premium ones offer your puppy health benefits as well.

Royal Canin rigorously test every ingredient in their pet food and if a batch of ingredients does not meet their standards they do not use it in production of their pet food.

How much to feed?

Manufacturers spend a lot of time trying to make feeding guides on packs as accurate as possible but they will never be exactly correct for every dog. This is because there is a significant variation between individuals. Some dogs need to eat more than others to maintain their body weight, others put on weight easily.

This is due to:

  • differences in activity level/lifestyle
  • differences in breed
  • stage of growth
  • individual metabolic rates

As a dog owner you should assess your pet’s bodyweight using a Body Condition Score Chart and regulate the food accordingly.

We will be happy to advise you on which diet would be best suited to your puppy and we also offer free nutritional consultations with our qualified Royal Canin Pet Health Counsellors who can advise you on your dog’s diet throughout their life.

Please click on the videos below to find out more about feeding your puppy through their lifestages.

Useful links:
www.royalcanin.co.uk
www.pfma.org.uk

Caring For Your Rabbit

1. Feeding:

Rabbits are herbivores- animals that need a plant based diet. The most important part of their diet which they require to stay healthy is fibre. If the wrong diet is fed, one that is low in fibre and high in carbohydrates, for example a commercial muesli mix, problems such as dental disease, facial abscesses, obesity, diarrhoea and furballs may occur. The best diet for your rabbit should consist of at least 99% grass and good quality meadow or timothy hay which should be available at all times. Greens such as broccoli, cabbage and watercress are also essential. Some rabbits fed on mainly commercial muesli mixes (high in sugar and starch) will only pick out the unhealthy, sweeter pellets of the mix leading to potentially fatal health problems.We recommend the Supreme Science Selective feeding range. This product is veterinary recommended because it contains the same amount of high quality nutrients in each individual nugget, eliminating the problem of selective feeding. Rabbits should only be fed a maximum of 25g of nuggets per kg per day as the nuggets are a complementary food. The bulk of their diet should be made up of hay and grass. We will be happy to advise you on a suitable diet for your rabbit.

2.Vaccination:

Your rabbit should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) (both strains RHD and RHD2) regardless of whether it is a house rabbit or not. These diseases can be fatal within several days of your rabbit becoming ill. Myxomatosis is spread by bloodsucking insects such as mosquitoes or rabbit fleas. Once infected, fluid filled swellings occur around the head and face leading to blindness. Swellings around the genitals and ears along with eye infections are also common. Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease is spread by direct contact between rabbits (wild and domesticated) and also via fleas, people, shoes and other objects. The vaccine is given from 5 weeks of age and a yearly booster is then required to maintain immunity.

A second strain of RHD has also been discovered, called RHD2. Rabbits infected with the RHDV2 virus typically DO NOT show the symptoms that are common with the original RHD virus so it is far more difficult to diagnose.

Fatality from RHD2 occurs later and over a longer period of time than RHD. Although RHD2 is less virulent than the original strain of RHD, its difficult early diagnosis actually means it is more challenging given rabbits can carry the disease for a longer period of time without any visible signs of infection. At present as we are not in a high risk area for RHD2 we are recommending yearly vaccination against the new strain. This can be given 2 weeks after the Myxomatosis and RHD  vaccination.

We will send you a reminder when the vaccination is due but please make sure you keep their vaccination certificate in a safe place and make a note on the calendar when they are due!

3.Worming and Flea Control: 

We recommend worming your rabbit with a veterinary supplied wormer available from the veterinary practice. This helps protect your rabbit against worms and a parasite called E.cuniculi. It can cause symptoms similar to that of a stroke leading to blindness, kidney failure and death. Not all rabbits that carry E.cuniculi show any signs of illness but they are still capable of infecting other rabbits that live with them either by their urine or passing it from mother to babies. Please ask for more information.
We advise regular treatment for fleas all year round once your rabbit is over 10 weeks of age. This helps  prevent infestations and helps protect against the spread of Myxomatosis. It is easily achieved by using a spot on treatment available from the veterinary practice. These are applied to the back of your rabbit’s neck and will treat any flea infestation for up to one week.

4.Neutering:   

Male and female rabbits can be neutered from four months of age before they become sexually mature. It is important to have your rabbit neutered if you are keeping both male and females together or if there are any behavioural problems such as dominance or aggression. Please see our information sheets on neutering for more information.

5.Dental Care: 

Rabbits teeth grow continuously as much as 10-12cm every year. Rabbits which are not fed a suitable diet are more prone to suffer from dental disease in the form of overgrown teeth, malocclusion (incorrect alignment of teeth) and tongue ulceration. This can be due to a lack of fibre in their diet to gnaw on. Regular dental checks by the veterinary surgeon are essential for early detection of these problems. Your rabbit’s nails can also easily become overgrown and should be closely monitored.

6.Flystrike: 

During the summer months your rabbit is at an increased risk of having Flystrike. This is caused by flies which lay their eggs on your rabbit usually in the hindquarters area. These eggs then hatch into maggots in as little as 12 hours burrowing into your rabbit’s skin and eating it away. The fly season generally runs from April to October so your rabbit could potentially be at risk most of the year. High risk rabbits are those that suffer from obesity, dental disease, diarrhoea, arthritis and those kept in dirty hutches that attract flies. It is always important to check your rabbit daily but during the summer they should be checked at least twice a day. If Flystrike is not treated early enough it can be fatal. Your rabbit can be protected from Flystrike for up to 10 weeks by applying a product available from the veterinary practice. We will be happy to advise you on the suitable treatment.

7.Pet Healthcare Plan:

Cinque Ports Vets Pet Healthcare Plan enables you to pay monthly for your preventative veterinary treatments and medication. We all want to use the best products available for our pets and at Cinque Ports Vets we want to make preventative healthcare easy and affordable to help give you and your pets the best care possible. You also receive an overall saving on your pets vaccinations, health check, worming and flea treatment as well as many other discounts as a reward for joining our scheme. The plan is available for dogs, cats and rabbits from any age and the monthly payment plan will be dependent on the bodyweight of your pet. Please see Pet Healthcare Plan or contact us for more information. Please be aware this is not an insurance policy but a preventative healthcare plan to help spread the cost of routine treatments which insurance does not cover.

8.Insurance: 

Although insurance is most commonly thought about for cats and dogs, insurance is also available for your rabbit. Pet insurance can be essential to help cover the cost of unexpected veterinary fees and there are a variety of policies available. Please ask for more information.

9.Grooming: 

Grooming is an important part of looking after your rabbit especially if they are long haired! Regular grooming will aid in early detection of problems such as Flystrike and also enable your rabbit to become accustomed to being handled and examined. Older or overweight rabbits may have difficulty in keeping themselves clean and become matted around their bottom. It is normal for rabbits to eat their softer droppings (caecotrophs) usually at night as this is also an important part of their high fibre diet. If they become overweight or unable to groom then problems will occur with their digestive system and veterinary advice should be sought.

10.Poisonous Plants: 

Although feeding greens and plants to your rabbit adds variety and interest to their diet it is important to remember that some plants can be very harmful if eaten, causing illness or in some cases death.
The following plants are poisonous to rabbits and should be avoided-
Carnation, Buttercup, Foxglove, Clematis, Deadly nightshade, Lobelia, Woody nightshade, Elder, Yew, Rhododendron, Privet, Geranium, Ivy, Lily of the Valley, Lupin and Iris.
Please see www.supremepetfoods.com for a more comprehensive list.
For more information please read ‘Caring For Pet Rabbits’ and ‘A Comprehensive Guide To Caring For Your Rabbit.’

Dental Disease In Rabbits

Dental disease is one of the most common reasons we see rabbits in the clinic. Dental problems can present with lots of different symptoms, and although genetics and trauma can play a part, the most common reason for dental issues is being fed an inappropriate diet.

Anatomy

Rabbits don’t have baby and permanent teeth like humans and dogs. Rabbit teeth are open rooted, meaning they continuously grow. The front incisors can grow as much as 12cm a year!

Rabbits mainly chomp and chew their food, so they don’t need sharp canines to tear meat, they only have incisors, premolars and molars.

What signs do I look out for?

The main signs of dental disease are not eating, weight loss, drooling, swelling of the face, discharge from the eyes, reduced grooming and caecotroph accumulation around the bottom.

What will my vet do to diagnose dental problems?

  1. Take a patient history, especially focusing on diet
  2. Physical exam
  3. Oral exam – looking at both the front incisor teeth, and the cheek teeth with an otoscope (sometimes rabbits don’t like this very much so may need some sedation to get a proper look)

What are the most common dental issues?

Most often the front teeth (incisors) become overgrown, and the cheek teeth (premolars and molars) have small spurs that can damage the inside of the mouth and cause pain.

What treatment will my rabbit need?

As rabbit teeth are structured differently to ours, they can be easily burred when they are overgrown. Often sedation isn’t necessary as it is a painless process.

If your rabbit has a problem where the jaws are not aligned properly (malocclusion), then they may require regular trimming, or your vet may discuss with you about removal of the teeth.

More serious conditions such as tooth root abscesses or trauma will require more complex treatment, and your rabbit may require medications such as pain relief and antibiotics.

What can I do to prevent dental problems?

Proper nutrition is essential for preventing dental disease. Rabbits should be fed a diet of predominantly good quality hay, and high fibre food such as leafy greens that encourage grinding motions of the jaw. Commercial rabbit foods should only be fed as a teaspoon of pellets once daily (not the muesli mixes).