Pocket pets, such as guinea pigs, are great pets to own. Their small size makes them a popular choice for many animal enthusiasts. However, their diminutive size also makes it especially hard to notice if they have an injury or other affliction.
Ever Growing Teeth
Guinea pigs’ teeth are unique in that they don’t stop growing. Their teeth, particularly their front teeth, will continue to elongate if left unchecked. This is referred to as an “elodont” dentition––think “elo”: elongate and “odont”: having teeth. Just like our nails, their teeth will grow and grow, so it’s important for guinea pigs to have ways in which they can keep their teeth at a reasonable length. The dynamic nature of their teeth can result in malocclusion, a misalignment of the jaws and/or teeth.
What’s “Normal” for my Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs have 20 teeth. They have upper and lower incisors, no canine teeth (there’s a small gap where these would be), upper and lower premolars, and three pairs of upper and lower molars. It’s important to note that guinea pigs’ teeth should be white in color, rather than yellow like most rodents. Their teeth should not be overly long or curved, and they shouldn’t be exhibiting any signs of pain or hesitation while they eat.
When is There Something Wrong?
If your guinea pig is refusing to eat, or they seem to be in pain or otherwise uncomfortable while they eat, there may be an underlying dental issue. Because of their small size (and inability to communicate to us if there’s something wrong), it’s important to pay attention to these often subtle signs.
If your furry friends has mouth sores, cuts, abscesses, overlong teeth, or is unable to eat, then these are signs that their teeth have gotten much too long. They should receive professional care at this point to ensure that there aren’t any hidden problems that have arisen. Additionally, they will be able to receive treatment for the dental issues which they are experiencing.
What Can I do to Keep Their Teeth in Check?
Guinea pigs have a trait that helps them to avoid overlong teeth and malocclusion––they love to chew! Wooden blocks (untreated wood only) or other guinea pig-specific items to chew on are a great option to keep them occupied and to keep their pearly whites healthy. Biting, chewing, and grinding helps to wear down the teeth and maintain a healthy length. Optimal tooth length varies from critter to critter, but keeping their home well-stocked with chewables will help them to stay healthy.
Here at the Animal Clinic of Milford, we are proud to offer services for pocket pets and other animals! No matter their size, we are happy to provide enthusiastic and caring treatment for all of your furry friends. Give us a call today at (203) 882-8311 to schedule an appointment!