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Rabbit Dentistry

Rabbit
Dental disease is one of the most common health problems encountered in pet rabbits. Dental problems arise in rabbits due to inappropriate diet and lack of exposure to sunlight. There is likely to be a genetic predisposition in dwarf rabbits as these breeds suffer dental disease more commonly than other rabbits.

Pic: Rabbits with dental disease will often choose to eat soft food instead of grass or hay.



Rabbit
Assessing Dental Disease in Rabbits

Dental disease is initially suspected when a rabbit is displaying appropriate signs. These include reduced appetite, changes in food preferences and increased salivation. An examination can help confirm the suspicion of dental disease. Abnormalities such as facial swellings, overgrown incisors or horizontal ridges on the incisors can be detected at this point.

However, the oral cavity of the rabbit is very narrow and rabbits are unable to open their mouths wide. This makes examination of the cheek teeth very difficult in a conscious rabbit. A full dental examination therefore requires a general anaesthetic. This allows the mouth to be fully opened and the large cheeks to be moved to aside to allow visualisation of the cheek teeth.


Pic: Normal incisors (top) and incisor malocclusion (bottom). (Photos courtesy of Frances Harcourt-Brown www.harcourt-brown.com.uk).



Rabbit
Examination under General Anaesthetic

The cheek teeth are examined for overgrowth, changes in orientation and malocclusion. The mouth is checked for any ulcers or cuts from abnormal teeth.

Spurs on the cheek teeth can be removed at this point using a dental burr. Examination under GA allows the section of the tooth that projects into the oral cavity to be examined. However, unlike cats and dogs, the majority of the crown of the rabbit’s tooth is actually embedded in the bones of the jaw. This section of the tooth also needs to be examined to allow full assessment of dental disease. This requires dental radiographs. These can be taken whilst the rabbit is under anaesthetic and will allow us to assess the full extent of dental disease


Pic: Spurs on the cheek teeth causing trauma to the mouth (photos courtesy of Frances Harcourt-Brown www.harcourt-brown.co.uk).



Rabbit
Dental Radiographs in Rabbits

Left are two radiographs of the skull taken from two different rabbits during dental examination at Milton Keynes Veterinary Group. These radiographs show the long section of the crowns of the teeth embedded in the bones of the skull. This part of the crown is called the ‘reserve crown’ and is not visible during examination of the mouth. Rabbit 1 (top) does not have any evidence of dental disease. Rabbit 2 (bottom), however, has advanced dental disease. Many teeth are missing or have stopped growing. There are associated long term changes in the skull. These radiographs helped us to rule out dental disease in the rabbit 1, and to decide how to manage the dental disease in the rabbit 2.


Pic: Rabbit 1 (top) – normal dentition.
Pic: Rabbit 2 (bottom) – advanced dental disease.


Treatment Options

Rabbits with dental disease will usually require repeat dental procedures under general anaesthetic. During these procedures, the crowns of the affected teeth are shortened to prevent trauma to the mouth and allow the rabbit to eat as normal. Many rabbits will also benefit from dietary modification to increase their calcium and fibre intake. Sometimes, we will recommend procedures such as removal of incisors or cheek teeth. Some cheek teeth can have their growth arrested by ‘pulpectomy.’ These procedures can prevent or reduce the frequency of recurrent dental procedures. These procedures are recommended if appropriate to the particular case.


Other Health Problems associated with Dental Disease

Rabbits with dental disease will often develop other problems as a result of their ongoing dental disease. These include:

  • Infection in the nasolacrimal duct (called Dacrocystitis)
  • Facial dermatitis
  • Facial abscesses
  • Gastric stasis
  • Flystrike




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Fighting Fractured Teeth

Fractured teeth are a common injury in cats and dogs, with the majority involving fractured canines of the upper jaw. Damage is commonly caused by falls, running into objects, clashing teeth and road traffic accidents. In dogs, other objects that can damage teeth include raw hide, bones, sticks/branches, rocks, ice and other hard objects.

The radiograph to the right shows a case of pulpitis in a cat. The pulp cavity is the hollow area inside a tooth filled with sensitive pulp tissue (blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue). This commonly occurs when the tip of the tooth is fractured, allowing bacteria to enter the pulp cavity. Swelling of the pulp tissue prevents blood entering the root canal and the result is ‘death’ of the tooth. On the radiograph we can see widening of the pulp cavity compared to the normal tooth on the right, with evidence of an abscess at the apex of the root. On this occasion the affected tooth was extracted. It is important to note that this problem was found during a routine dental, and the patient did not show any obvious mouth pain at the time, but the owner reported marked improvement in his demeanour and appetite following surgery. Due to high pain threshold and other instinctive behaviours, our patients rarely shows signs of pain and will often hide pain very well.

It is therefore important to never ignore a broken tooth in your pet.
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Does your pet have bad breath?

This could be a sign of dental disease. Dental disease in pets is very common, however it is a disease that can be prevented.

We are focusing on Dental Disease and Prevention during the month of September.

Signs of dental disease can include:
  • Bad Breath
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Difficulty eating
  • Red or inflamed gums
  • Brown discoloured teeth
  • Facial swelling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Mobile teeth
We are offering a FREE DENTAL CHECK* for your cat or dog with one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses who will examine your pet’s teeth and discuss about prevention of dental disease. Appointments are available at our Walnut Tree Hospital, Stoke Road Surgery and Willen Surgery.

Our practice has dental facilities at our Walnut Tree Hospital and Stoke Road Surgery including dental radiography. Dental x-rays allow us to detect hidden disease within the teeth and below the gum line to ensure your pet gets the maximum benefit from their procedure.

* If your pet is found to be ill during the free dental check, treatment costs will be incurred. Dental treatment will be chargeable.
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Meet loveable Jasper….

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group would like to introduce you to Jasper, the beautiful blind dog. Jasper started life as a Guide Dog, but after losing both his eyes to Glaucoma, he was forced to retire at just six years old. Being blind doesn’t stop Jasper from leading a full and happy life with his owner, Janyce, and they have learnt to cope together, building new skills for Jasper and exploring his new world. Read on for Janyce and Jaspers story in her own words

“Jasper worked for my son’s father, David, so I have known him for years. He had to retire, aged 6, when he lost his right eye to glaucoma. I said yes when David asked if I’d like to give Jasper his retirement home, knowing that there was a possibility Jasper could lose the other eye too, which he did, just six months later. He’s been with me since last September. He’s a lovely dog. Very polite, very friendly and good natured with everyone, and so affectionate. I was very worried he’d lose that when he went blind, and that I wouldn’t be able to cope and I’d have to give him back to Guide Dogs, but it has been fine. We have learned together. The people at Guide Dogs were brilliant, making sure Jasper saw a specialist and got the very best treatment, and that what was done was right for him. Jasper was more confident walking on his car harness, so I bought him a Ruffwear Webmaster harness at the start (a strong harness with a handle). I think that has been a really good investment for him. We had a couple of dodgy weeks at the beginning, when he was very reluctant to move around. Guide Dogs are trained not to move when there might be danger and he lost all his confidence. He became very focused on me, leaning up against me as we walked and almost tripping me up. Gradually he became more confident, walking to the end of a lead and stopping leaning on me as we walked, but he was very hesitant and would come back after a few paces. He’s had to learn a lot of new skills and unlearn the guide dog rules. His guide dog training has helped him to be a confident blind dog as he is so obedient and he listens to me when I give commands. But he also gets overconfident sometimes, and he’s very strong and pulls really hard when he recognises his mates (human and canine!). I’ve met a lot of partially sighted and blind dogs in person and through the Blind Dogs Facebook group, who cope brilliantly. Jasper gets a lot of attention when he’s out, he’s very good at making friends. He has a BLIND DOG collar and leash, people often don’t realise he is completely blind as he manages so well. He’ll say hello to a dog, find their human, sniff out the treat pocket and then sit next to it. He knows how to work his disability, usually smiling at the human until they give in and give him one of their treats. Jasper’s a bright boy and picked some things up very quickly. For example, the word “watch” will stop him in his tracks and he’ll turn around and return to me. He knows his way around the house, and when we are out walking he’s usually off the lead, but he doesn’t go very far from me. But I was concerned Jasper wasn’t getting enough exercise. He was healthy but he’d become quite unfit, now he’s getting more exercise with his ball. Just after Jasper went blind, I met another Lab who was blind from cataracts and who was retrieving a ball on a rope, so I knew it was possible. We tried fetch on and off without any kind of enthusiasm from Jasper, although he’d find his squeaky toys and bring them to me at home. I was quite worried about boredom and that everything was focused on food. Then he started going to scent classes a couple of months ago, at the suggestion of Guide Dogs, and he’s really enjoyed it. The other weekend, I thought we’d have another go at retrieving, and it finally clicked with him. He’s moving quickly and confidently and really enjoying it. I’ve not seen him so enthusiastic about something for quite some time, he’s loving it. He even does a version of the excited doggy dance before I throw it again, and he dances in circles when he’s found it. He’s a Lab with a ball, he’s got a job and purpose again. He’s very pleased with himself and a very happy dog.”
See more videos of Jasper on our YouTube page – Milton Keynes Veterinary Group.

Credit to Janyce Quigley

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Mammary Tumours in Rats

Mammary tumours are incredibly common in rats and most owners are very familiar with encountering these growths on their pets. However, many owners are not aware of the different options that are available for the treatment of mammary tumours in rats.

Why are mammary tumours so common in rats?
Mammary tumours grow in rats due to the presence of a hormone called Prolactin. This hormone is secreted during the normal oestrus cycle of the rat. It can also be secreted by the mammary tumour itself and by tumours of the pituitary gland. Secretion of Prolactin increases as rats age. Factors which affect the development of mammary tumours in rats include the genetic strain of the rat, the diet, the hormonal status and the age of the rat. Mammary tumours may affect up to 90% of intact female rats and 16% of intact males over one year of age. Approximately 80% of mammary tumours in rats are benign but 20% are malignant.
How can mammary tumours be treated?
All mammary tumours should be surgically removed as early as possible. Benign tumours can usually be completely removed at the time of surgery but this is difficult to achieve with malignant tumours. Alongside surgical removal of the tumour, we can now offer some other options to reduce the likelihood of any future mammary tumour growth. These are:
  1. Placing a hormone implant under the skin. The implant prevents the secretion of Prolactin, which means that mammary tumours are unable to develop. This can be placed at the time of surgery. Alternatively, this can be placed in young female rats to prevent development of mammary tissue.
  2. Neutering. Females can be spayed and males castrated. This removes the influence of Prolactin. NB: These methods are not effective if a pituitary tumour is the source of the prolactin. Also, this will not prevent regrowth or spread of malignant mammary tumour.
  3. Medication to reduce the secretion of Prolactin. This will remove the influence of Prolactin on mammary tissue. This can be effective even if a pituitary tumour is present.
  4. Diet and environment. Reducing the calorie content of the diet and environmental enrichment will reduce the likelihood of mammary tumours recurring.
If you would like to discuss any of these treatment options, please contact us at MKVG.
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