Malocclusion Rabbit

by Hannah

I recently went and bought a beautiful Lionhead doe from a breeder. While there, she offered to give me a buck for free. She explained how he has malocclusion, but not from genetics, from chewing on his cage. I know she is telling the truth because he is the father to the doe that I bought and I looked at her brothers and sisters, they all have properly aligned teeth.

She told me that I can trim the buck's teeth myself with some wire cutters. Seeing that I have owned plenty of rabbits before, I told her I would take him as long as she was willing to take him back if I felt that I couldn't handle his condition. His case is very severe, with his top teeth starting to curl to the side.

I just wish I knew more about how best to take care of it. I have bought some nail trimmers (the kind that look more like pliers than clippers) and will try to use those. Taking him to the vet every month would get awful pricey, and it would be much easier if I was just comfortable with doing it myself. There are a few videos that show how to clip the teeth, and it seems like just some wire cutters and a quick snip are fine. How do I know how much to cut? What do I do if I cut too much and his teeth bleed? Is there any way to try to correct his teeth over time?

I'd like to give it a shot, I know a lot of people say that it is just easier to cull bunnies with this condition, but he is a very pretty buck and produces good babies.

The biggest problem is how much he wiggles while trying to clip, and I fear I will cut his tongue. Any tips?

***** Karen Sez *****
Wish I could offer any tips! You probably know that my policy is to cull, which means I have no experience with clipping rabbit teeth. (It also means that malocclusion is a problem that I no longer ever find in my barn.)

Depending on the rabbit, I understand that cutting the teeth nearly to the gumline might possibly help the teeth to realign. My guess is this is an extremely individual solution, which won't always work.

Clipping the teeth can be done, though one concern is cracking or splitting the tooth into the gums, creating an opening for infection.

If the breeder of the buck cannot explain exactly how she takes care of the buck's teeth, I'd then suggest getting professional help for the first try, advising the vet at the time you make the appointment that your goal is education so you can continue the clipping going forward. This way you can get professional answers to your questions.

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