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Dental Health in Pocket Pets

Until March 15th of this year we are focused on Dental Health at Moncton Animal Clinic. There are a variety of products and food available for dogs and cats that will help to keep their teeth clean and prevent diseases from developing such as kidney or heart disease. There are other animals that also need to be monitored for changes in their dental health; rabbits, guinea pigs, and other small rodents can all develop problems.

Rabbits and guinea pigs have teeth that never stop growing. A rabbit’s incisor can grow between 1 to 5 mm each week! As these animals eat a natural diet of Timothy Hay and vegetables they are able to grind the teeth down as fast as they are able to grow. Dental growth in rodents is influenced by the age of the animal, their overall health, and nutrition available. If the teeth become maloccluded they will not be worn down evenly and serious health problems can develop.

Malocclusion is the abnormal wearing of teeth. In rabbits and small rodents it can cause sharp edges to form on the teeth which leads to trauma of the cheek tissue and tongue. Facial swellings may occur as well as wet fur around the mouth or chin. If the teeth are severe the animal may not be able to properly chew or digest its food which can lead to weight loss and associated problems.

Anesthesia is necessary to properly assess the condition of a rabbit or guinea pig’s mouth because the area is such a small one in which to work. The teeth can be filed down or even extracted if needed. Radiographs are useful to help visualize the growth patterns. Unlike dogs and cats, rabbits cannot live without their teeth, so proper dental care is very important in these species.

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