Unfortunately, we regularly see dental problems in the guinea pigs that are brought to the shelter, or in animals that come on holiday or for a pedicure. Of the 25 guinea pigs that we are already richer this month, 3 already appeared to have visible dental problems. That is a lot!
Dental problems cannot always be prevented, but the chance of them is considerably smaller if your guinea pigs (but this also applies to rabbits!) eat a lot of hay. This ensures a lot of chewing movements, so that the molars wear properly. The front teeth participate in this. If this process goes wrong, it will take a while before you see anything of it as an owner, no matter how alert you are. This means that dental problems are not always immediately recognizable. If there is a suspicion of dental problems, the front teeth can give an indication. Especially when a guinea pig is slowly losing weight and also appears to have bad teeth, a visit to a good and specialized vet is essential.
What's wrong in the picture above? This guinea pig not only has a crooked cutting edge, the lower tooth is also too long and a second lower tooth is missing.
Healthy front teeth are relatively short (somewhat longer at the bottom than at the top) with a straight cutting edge. Guinea pigs have two upper teeth and two lower teeth.
It is also not uncommon in our animal shelter to see animals that have already lost a lot of weight. If we check the front teeth, our suspicion that there are dental problems is confirmed by a set of considerably too long front teeth. The problem is that in many cases these kinds of problems cannot be solved, especially if the guinea pig is already losing weight. An anesthesia to sharpen the molars is then quite intense and if the animal recovers well, we regularly see that the problem keeps coming back.
What can you do yourself?
Stay alert for deviations:
- For example, weigh your animal weekly and record the weight. Then you can see when the weight drops gradually.
- See if your animals are not just walking towards food, but actually eating and not grabbing a bite and releasing it again.
- Check whether your animals make normal chewing movements and do not grit their teeth a lot.
Provide lots of chewing movements:
- Give good hay (green, not dusty, not musty and not too coarse)
- Feed different types of hay and other high-fiber foods, such as timothy hay, green oats, and herb hay.
- Don't they like to eat hay, even if the quality is still so good? Mix it with a nice coarse spice mix (such as the fiber mix or green mix) and put it in a sealed container. This way the hay gets a little more aroma.
- Make toys with the hay, stuff it in a tunnel, feed toy, toilet roll, etc. Animals often find it much more fun to demolish something than to offer it boringly.
You can read more about guinea pig teeth here.