Common hamster, guinea pig & rabbit dental problems
January 14, 2022
What do hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits have in common, besides being cute small furry pets? Well, they all have teeth that grow continuously and need the correct diet to keep them in-check naturally. Well done if you guessed it correctly!
Molesey Veterinary Centre are hopping onboard with February’s Pet Dental Health Month and sharing advice to help small furry pet owners in Surrey learn about their pets’ dental needs.
Common small furry pet dental problems
A common dental problem that rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters face is overgrown teeth. If teeth are not kept at a healthy length by chewing food and gnawing, they can become too long and cause a variety of issues such as:
- Pain and discomfort
- Difficulty eating – after around 6 hours this becomes an emergency situation for rabbits & guinea pigs who should graze almost constantly
- Roots get pushed back into the jaw & skull
- Teeth break off causing discomfort (typically in hamsters)
- Overgrowth digs into the mouth and gums causing cuts and abscesses
- Dental disease
How to spot the signs
Spotting dental health problems in rabbits and other small furry pets can be tricky to the untrained eye. As prey animals, their instinct is to hide pain and avoid showing any sign of weakness.
That’s why it is important for you as an owner to keep a lookout for any, or a combination of the symptoms below. Take a note of your pet’s general health, as well as how the inside of their mouth looks.
14 signs of dental problems to look out for:
- Long, deformed, misaligned, or broken teeth
- Redness of the gums
- Grinding teeth
- Bumpy jawline
- Weepy eyes
- Runny nose
- Swollen face
- Mouth sensitivity
- Eating less
- Weight loss
- A dirty bottom (grooming becomes difficult & painful)
- Diarrhoea or unusually soft faeces
- They are less active or quiet
How to avoid hamster, guinea pig & rabbit dental problems
Diet is the key to avoiding these types of issues. Hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits need the right type of fibrous food they can chew on to keep their teeth at a healthy length. Balanced nutrition also helps them develop strong bones and teeth, just as it does in humans.
- Rabbits need lots of fresh timothy hay to chew on as part of their daily diet.
- Guinea pigs need to bite, chew, gnaw, and grind food; hays, grasses, vegetables & herbs.
- Hamsters store food rather than graze all day. They need nutritionally balanced ‘complete’ rodent pellets, small amounts of fresh produce, and the occasional seed treat.
Enrichment is important too. Bored pets tend to gnaw on their cage, which can damage teeth. Try small wooden blocks, paper to shred, and pet-appropriate chew toys and treats.
Regular vet visits are also helpful. Our highly experienced Vets in East Molesey can check your pet for signs of dental problems and carry out the necessary procedures – teeth trimming, filing down spurs, treatment for infections, and extractions.