It is well-known that rodents like bunnies or guinea pigs love to gnaw and eat plenty. This behaviour serves an important purpose.
Teeth misalignment in rodents
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Why is gnawing so crucial for rodents?
Rodents’ teeth continue to grow throughout their life, therefore, it is extremely important that the teeth are in the correct position and come together when the animal chews. A misalignment of the teeth in rodents often leads to overgrown teeth because they don’t get worn down. Teeth misalignment is often genetic or it can be the result of an incorrect diet and can be very painful. In the worst cases, the rodent will stop eating all together.
It is very important to be aware of proper dental care for your rodent and this begins with diet:
Many rodent owners are surprised that feeding your companion hard pet food is enough to keep teeth at a consistent length. That said, it is not the friction of the teeth on the food itself, rather the friction of the teeth on each other which is crucial. You should offer your rodent hay, vegetables, fresh twigs and green fodder. In contrast to grain, small pets should consume lots and lots of hay in order to meet their energy requirements. In this way, the teeth get used more and the risk of teeth misalignment is minimalised.
Treatment for teeth misalignment
Depending on the rate of growth, the teeth should be adjusted in regular intervals of 2 to 8 weeks. The incisors can be sanded down or adjusted with tongs; with cooperative rodents this can be done without anaesthetic. If the molars are also affected, the animal must be put under anaesthetic for a short time. Protruding teeth can be clipped with tongs and the teeth can be smoothed down.
Signs of teeth misalignment in rodents
The following symptoms indicate a possible teeth misalignment:
- Refusing food
- Weight loss
- Drooling (wetness on the chin)
If you see any of these symptoms in your rodent, visit a vet as soon as possible. The vet will examine your pet and talk you through the possibilities for treatment.