How to Proactively Deal with Pets Whose Teeth Never Stop Growing
Did you know that rabbits, squirrels, and rodents have teeth that never stop growing? A chinchilla is another pet with teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives. The teeth of all of these animals may periodically require tooth trims if they don’t wear them down naturally. To do so,
they have to chew on tough foods like nuts, leaves, grasses, and bark to wear their teeth down and keep them from growing too long.
With February being National Pet Dental Health month, we’re going to go over some facts about rabbit and rodent teeth you probably aren’t aware of and the best ways to ensure them a long and healthy life.
Facts About Bunny Teeth
Baby bunnies only have 16 primary teeth. Once they’re adults, they have a full set of toofers totaling 28 in number, with the large front teeth known as incisors. Unlike human beings and other animals, bunnies aren’t equipped with canine teeth. Instead, they have what are known as cheek teeth, which consist of premolars and molars.
Another difference between our teeth and rabbit teeth is that rabbit teeth have no enamel and they wear down quickly from chewing coarse materials. Fortunately for them, the nerves stop just beneath their gum line, allowing them to avoid pain from the constant wear and tear they regularly undergo.
Teeth Growth in Rodent-Like Animals
The reason for this continuous growth is that they have open roots that facilitate lifelong activity. With rabbits, their teeth grow between 3 to 5 inches each year! The above-mentioned animals are the only creatures with this unique tooth structure, and it has to do with their constant gnawing. The instinct also necessitates the need for rabbit and rodent owners to provide their pets with proper materials to sate that instinct.
Rodent Teeth and Diet
Natural foodstuffs like grasses and other greens allow their teeth to wear down at a pace more closely related to living in the wild, as opposed to commercial products like pellets. That’s because pellets are predominantly chewed with cheek teeth, not front teeth. This type of side chewing grinds only a small portion of the incisors, which often leads to tooth spurs that can eventually cause pain and the inability to consume food properly.
Providing a proper diet will ensure that pets with open-rooted dentition (continuously growing front teeth) won’t need much in the way of care. This is achieved by giving them plenty of roughage to keep their incisors worn down. As a bonus, chewing this kind of material also helps keep their teeth aligned!
While your bunny should be regularly fed a vegetarian diet high in fiber, it’s alright to give them treats from time to time. Just make sure they aren’t laden with sweeteners. Instead, provide them with natural sources, such as fruit or sweet veggies. The list includes apple slices, small bites of banana, dried pineapple — which contains an enzyme that helps break down ingested fur (another bonus) — carrots, and broccoli. Just don’t overdo it with any of these. A good rule of thumb is to adhere to the following: no more than 1 teaspoon of any of the above per 2 pounds of body weight daily.
The best way to prevent overgrown teeth in chinchillas is to feed them plenty of hay. Hay is a coarse fiber that not only promotes prolonged chewing in animals but also encourages a healthy gastrointestinal tract by helping to establish a normal population of GI bacteria that digests their food.
If your pet’s teeth look as if they could still use a trim, consider getting them a natural pumice or lava stone. Ideal for rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, rats, mice, and gerbils, they promote good dental health, satisfy their natural gnawing instinct, and won’t splinter like typical wood chews do.
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