Tooth Problems Of Rabbits and Small Pets

rabbits and rodents

At Castle Vets we see many rabbits and rodents with a variety of different dental problems. The teeth of most animals (including humans) stop growing after the initial development period, but rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs and rodents have teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives, which means dental problems will develop if these pets are unable to grind their teeth down through feeding and chewing.

Symptoms of a dental problem

  • Decreased appetite, your pet may stop eating completely or only manage very small amounts at a time.
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at or rubbing their face on things
  • Swellings around the jaw area or under the eye
  • Weight loss
  • Runny eyes (one or both eyes may be involved)
  • Discharge from the cheek or jaw area
  • Overgrown teeth may be visible

If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, please book an appointment with your vet straight away.

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Rabbit & Rodent Dental Problems

rabbits and rodents

At Castle Vets in Reading, we often see rabbits and rodents with a variety of dental problems. The teeth of most animals (including humans) stop growing after the initial development period, but rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs and rodents have teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives, which means dental problems will develop if these animals are unable to grind their teeth down through feeding and chewing.

Common causes of dental problems

  • Insufficient gnawing materials – these are needed so that the pet can grind and wear their teeth down naturally as they grow.
  • Poor nutrition during development can lead to dental and bone abnormalities.
  • Poor nutrition after the growth period leads to dental abnormalities.
  • Traumatic injury and/or broken teeth can lead to malocclusion (teeth not aligning properly).
  • Cavities and periodontal disease caused by a poor diet and bacteria passed on from owners.
  • Genetic abnormalities passed on from the parents (this is becoming much more common in rabbits because of poor breeding standards by irresponsible owners).

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Cold Weather Pet Care

GPig in scarf

Just like us, the colder months can be a challenge the health and well-being of our pets. Most animals will bound through the chillier months in full health, but we need to be mindful that changes in temperatures and shorter days can have a real impact on the health and happiness of some of our family pets, especially the smaller or more frail ones.

Pets kept outdoors

If you have rabbits, guinea pigs or ferrets that are kept outside in the garden, make sure you keep a close eye on them during the colder months. It is important to ensure that you are providing enough bedding for warmth and that they are in a secure and waterproof environment.

  • Your pets will need a warm bed, so provide extra bedding and a thicker layer of the litter you usually use for the floor. Newspaper can also be used to line the floors underneath the bedding Check that your hutch is in a good state and properly waterproofed. If possible raise it up off the floor to prevent the base becoming damp and to keep your pets warm.
  • Large mesh doors can be partially covered with clear perspex, which will allow your pet to see out and the sun to come in but will provide a barrier against the wind and rain – ventilation is very important though, so leave several inches gap at the top for this. Covering the whole hutch with a specially designed cover or with a blanket, piece of carpet and a waterproof covering, will help keep the heat in and the weather out. Make sure that you leave the front open to ventilate during the day and at night cover the majority of the hutch leaving a small area open for ventilation. If it gets really cold, move the hutch into a shed or unused garage. (Never place a hutch in the same garage you store a vehicle in)
  • Staying warm in the winter can use up more energy and so pets spending a lot of time outside, may be burning more calories to generate body heat. It may be necessary to increase their calorie intake to account for the cold but please speak to a member of our practice team for more advice on the correct amount to feed your pet.
  • It is vital to ensure that your pet has access to fresh clean water and that water in bowls and bottles hasn’t frozen over night
  • Exercise is also important for pets housed outside. Encourage mobility and play with toys they can push around and tubes they can run through. It may be necessary to let them exercise indoors if it is too cold outside or if there is a frost or snow on the ground. Damp grass will also cause your pet to become cold very quickly.
We found these covers at www.rabbithutchworld.co.uk

We found these covers at rabbithutchworld.co.uk

Rodents, Birds, Reptiles and Fish
  • Make sure that any small mammals and birds are kept in a draft-free environment.
  • It is important to check that indoor pets don’t get too warm when you turn up your central heating. Take special care with pets like chinchillas that prefer cooler temperatures.
  • If you keep tropical fish or reptiles check their tank temperature daily as it may fluctuate with changes in household temperatures.
  • If you have a hibernating pet, make sure that you get the proper advice about maintaining their environment during hibernation.
  • If you have fish in a pond make sure to break any ice that forms over the top to allow air to circulate and prevent toxins building up.
colorfultropicalfishtank-613693

Check tank temperatures daily

Advice For Cat Owners

Many cats will be more inclined to stay inside during cold and wet weather, but exercise and mental stimulation are very important.

  • Encourage play and exercise using cat toys or home made toys like string and ping-pong balls. Activity can also be encourage using scratching posts, cat towers, climbing frames, or even just a few cardboard boxes with cat-sized holes cut out for hide and seek games.
  • If your cat does venture outside, it is worth considering a reflective collar so he or she can be seen more easily (make sure it has a quick release function for safety). If you don’t have a cat flap for your cat, put a cosy bed in your shed and leave the shed door or window open for them to access it.
  • At this time of year our vets usually see an increase of cystitis cases in our feline patients because they don’t want to go outside in the bad weather for a wee! Make sure that your cat has access to a litter tray if you notice that he or she is not going outside very much.
cat box tower

Mental stimulation and opportunities to play and exercise should be provided for cats who don’t want to go outside

Advice for Dog Owners

Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, so most will still expect their daily walks even in the most miserable winter weather. Dogs will feel the cold, just like we do so it is important to get them warm whilst out and about;

  • Make sure you do at least 10 minutes of on-lead walking before letting your dog off the lead. This will ensure their muscles are properly warmed up before they start racing about after balls or other dogs.
  • Playing activity games such as tug of war and fetch will help your dog stay warmer.
  • Going for walks in a local wood will help keep you both warmer because the trees will shelter you from the worst of the weather.
  • If your dog gets wet on the walk make sure they are properly dried off with a towel when they get home. This is especially important with older dogs and dogs with long or thick coats.
  • If you have been for a walk in the snow check your dog’s feet when you get home and remove any balls of ice stuck in the hair between their foot pads.
  • Miniature breeds, smooth-coated breeds and elderly dog will feel the cold more than others, so it may be worth investing in a doggy coat or jumper to keep them warmer on their walks. It is important to remove doggy coats and jumpers once they are back inside to prevent your dog from over-heating.
  • When dog walking in the evenings, make sure that both you and your dog are visible to others. We recommend a reflective and/or flashing collar, tag or lead for your dog so that he or she can be seen easily in the dark.
  • If you are unable to take your dog out due to bad weather, you can prevent boredom by stimulating their minds and keeping them active. Play hide and seek games with favourite toys and try food puzzles and activity balls to keep them alert and provide interest while stuck indoors.
dog coats and stim

Make sure your dog is warm and dry and help prevent boredom in cold weather

 

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Rabbit & Rodent Dental Problems

rabbits and rodents

At Castle Vets in Reading, we often see rabbits and rodents with a variety of dental problems. The teeth of most animals (including humans) stop growing after the initial development period, but rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs and rodents have teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives, which means dental problems will develop if these animals are unable to grind their teeth down through feeding and chewing.

Common reasons for dental problems

  • Insufficient gnawing materials will restrict the animal’s ability to grind and wear their teeth down naturally.
  • Poor nutrition during development can lead to dental and bone abnormalities.
  • Poor nutrition after the growth period leads to dental abnormalities.
  • Traumatic injury and/or broken teeth can lead to malocclusion (teeth not aligning properly).
  • Cavities and periodontal disease caused by a poor diet and bacteria passed on from owners.
  • Genetic abnormalities passed on from the parents (this is becoming much more common in rabbits because of poor breeding standards by irresponsible owners).

Signs that your pet may have a dental problem

  • Decreased appetite, your pet may stop eating completely or only manage very small amounts at a time.
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Swellings around the jaw area or under the eye
  • Weight loss
  • Runny eyes (one or both eyes may be involved)
  • Discharge from the cheek or jaw area
  • Overgrown teeth may be visible
Dental problems in small animals

Dental problems in small animals

Common types of dental problems

  1. Overgrown incisors will normally be visible outside the animals mouth, but sometimes can grow up through the roof of the mouth or out through the cheek.
  2. Pre molar and molar teeth can grow painful spurs that rub against the tongue and cheek of the animal causing ulceration and laceration.
  3. Abscesses (a pocket of infected pus) can form because of infection in the mouth. They are most often seen as swellings around the jaw line, cheek or under the eyes.
  4. Dental Caries and tooth decay  is usually caused by a diet of high energy and sweet foods (as in humans).
Dental abscesses in rabbits

Dental abscesses in rabbits

Treatment of dental problems

  • Maloccluded or Overgrown Incisor teeth – The vet is usually able to clip or file these teeth down without the need for sedation or an anaesthetic if the pet will tolerate it.
  • Spurs on Pre-Molars or Molars – The vet may need to give your pet an anaesthetic in order to be able to file these teeth and make him or her more comfortable
  • Dental abscesses – The treatment of these will depend on the location and severity of the problem. The abscesses of small animals do not drain well and often need to be surgically removed under an anaesthetic.
Spurs form on teeth and can cause a lot of pain when the dig into the mouth and tongue

Spurs form on teeth and can cause a lot of pain when the dig into the mouth and tongue

Long-term care of animals with dental problems

A rabbit or rodent diagnosed with dental problems will often require regular visits to the vet for treatment, but you can help a great deal by providing the correct nutrition. Feeding the right foods is vitally important and giving your pet a balanced diet will go a long way to helping with dental problems as it will enable them to grind their teeth down properly. Give hard foods (and hay where appropriate) and safe woods to chew on such as elm, ash, maple, birch, apple, orange, pear, peach. Most of these are available in pet shops. (do not give cedar, plum, redwood, cherry, and oleander)

If you suspect that your pet has a dental problem we recommend that you see your vet as soon as possible.

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