Did you know that exotic pets need dental care, too? Most pet owners don’t brush their animals’ teeth, so tartar can build up, and their pet’s breath can become malodorous. Excessive tartar accumulates leading to gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth root infection.
Most exotic pets – from ferrets to rabbits, rodents to reptiles — should have a thorough oral examination annually as part of their regular health checkup. Some species, like ferrets and bearded dragon lizards, actually should have annual dental cleanings to thoroughly remove built-up plaque and tartar and to examine teeth for signs of infection, abnormal wear, fractures or looseness.
Animal Hospital of Fairfield provides complete dental care, using instruments specially designed for all exotic species, to clean and trim teeth to prevent dental disease and to surgically treat impacted, overgrown, infected, and abscessed teeth.
Ferrets often crack their teeth (especially canine teeth or fangs) from chewing on inappropriate objects such as rocks and cage bars. They get large amounts of tartar along their gumlines resulting in gum inflammation or gingivitis. Fractured teeth needs caps, and tartar needs to be scaled off. All ferrets, especially older than 3 years of age, should have pre-anesthetic blood testing to help ensure that they are ready for general anesthesia.
Bearded Dragon Lizards
Like ferrets and other pets, bearded dragon lizards get bacteria on their teeth. As opposed to mammal teeth that are rooted into tooth sockets by ligaments, bearded dragon teeth are directly rooted into their jawbones, predisposing them to bone inflammation and infection. To help prevent these serious conditions, bearded dragons should have an annual dental scaling, or cleaning, performed while under anesthesia, just like ferrets. As with other exotic pets undergoing anesthesia, bearded dragons should have pre-anesthetic blood work.
Rabbits and rodents
Rabbits and rodents, such as guinea pigs and chinchillas, also need dental care. Unlike many other mammals, these animals have teeth, which grow continuously throughout the pet’s lifetime. This “open-rooted” teeth could cause many dental problems. In the wild, rabbits and rodents chew on something fibrous, and that help keep their teeth worn down. Decreased tooth wear predisposes these animals to forming sharp spurs on their teeth that can cut into the gums and tongue, leading to pain, inflammation and sometimes serious infections and abscesses that must be treated surgically. Rabbits and rodents don’t require dental cleaning, but should have a complete oral examination every year during their annual checkup. If sharp spurs or edges are present, they must be filed down, often under anesthesia, and any loose or infected teeth must be extracted.
Sure, birds do not have teeth: they use their beaks for picking up and chewing food. But beak malocclusions or injuries may require specialized medical or surgical therapy to allow your bird to eat normally. An overgrown beak can be a sign of illness, such as liver disease or malnutrition.