February is Dental Care Month for pets. While small pet dental care is important year round, it is good to have a yearly reminder on ways to properly care for your pet’s teeth. There are ways to keep your small pet’s teeth healthy. Here are some tips to keep small pet dental care fun, easy, and manageable.
Why Small Pets Need Dental Care
Small pets have teeth that grow in length all the time. In fact, it is estimated that small pets have teeth that grow five inches each year! While a dog or a cat has teeth that need cleaned, a small pet has teeth that need to be ground down. Hamsters, gerbils, rats, and mice have incisors. Rabbits and guinea pigs have both incisors and molars.
The incisors and the molars need to be ground down on all the small pets, or a condition called malocclusion can occur. Malocclusion is when the teeth grow unevenly or grow too long. This causes damage to the inside of your small pet’s mouth and tongue.
Dental Care Through Chewing
For small pets, the best way to provide dental care is to provide things to chew on. Your small pet’s teeth are made to be worn down by chewing, so provide as many items to chew on as you can.
For incisors, hard chew toys, hard treats, and hard food are the best things to provide to wear down teeth. Wood (such as fruit-flavored wood chews or fruit twigs), calcium, and synthethic chew toys are some of the best options for your small pet to chew on.
For molars, provide things to chew on that require a grinding motion. Fibrous items, like timothy hay or vegetables, provide this needed motion to keep molars worn down to the proper length.
Hopefully, these tips will help keep your small pet’s teeth in great shape.