Excessive chewing as a sign of pain
Rabbits love to chew on everything in play and during investigation, so you need to determine if your bunny is chewing for the sake of chewing, or chewing because of pain. A rabbit trained veterinarian will need to assist you in diagnosing the exact cause of pain indicated by excessive chewing.
An example of excessive chewing could be chewing on the edge of the food dish before or between bites of food, or chewing one bite of food for an exceptionally long time. This could indicate some kind of pain in the mouth, such as mouth sores or tooth problems caused by malocclusion, or problems with the gums. Infections caused by foreign bodies such as hay under the skin in the mouth can cause abscesses that would be painful. When left untreated, infections from mouth problems could travel up the rabbit’s sinus cavity to the nose, eyes or ears causing additional problems.
This pain indicator could also be accompanied by periods of sitting in the back of the hutch staring at the corner, increasing disinterest in eating, unusual swelling of the cheeks, chin or other areas of the head and whimpering or grunting when you touch its cheeks or any area of the mouth.
Excessive chewing could also be chewing on a leg, hip, foot, or any other area of the body. This could be the rabbit’s way of trying to rid itself of pain in that area. Chewing on a limb could also be accompanied by a limp or unusual use of a limb. Chewing on other parts of the body could indicate problems with internal organs such as kidney or bladder stones or it could indicate skin surface problems such as mites or ring worms. These forms of excessive chewing could be accompanied by swelling, lack of movement, whimpering or grunting when picked up, sitting at the back of the hutch staring at the corner and increasing disinterest in eating or drinking.
When assessing excessive chewing as a pain indicator, you must also take a look at other actions or your rabbit to make a final determination if the chewing is a form of pain. Though the chewing may be the most obvious indicator that something is wrong with your bunny, changes in your rabbit’s normal behavior or attitude along with the excessive chewing will be the greatest determinant that your bunny is in pain.