Guinea Pigs have 20 teeth and, as rodents, their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. With the right diet and good dental hygiene, a Guinea Pig’s teeth should never, or very rarely, require trimming. It isn’t recommended that owners trim their own Guinea Pig’s teeth, and you should take them to a vet to have the procedure done. If you clip in the wrong place or attempt to cut too short, you can cut through the roots and cause serious dental problems, not to mention pain and distress! Even if you avoid the roots, if you cut incorrectly it can lead to malformation of the tooth as it regrows, and this can cause lifelong dental issues.
If your Guinea Pig has very long teeth that need trimming, you need to consult a vet. Alternatively, you can follow the steps below to help ensure that their teeth naturally grind down to a safe and manageable level.
How to Trim Guinea Pig Teeth
1. Feed Hay
Guinea Pigs rely on a constant grinding of the teeth while eating, to maintain their teeth and keep them at a suitable length. Timothy or Alfalfa Hay should form the main part of your Cavie’s diet. Approximately 85% of a Guinea Pig’s daily diet should consist of hay. Your local pet store should stock suitable hay, or you can buy it online and have it delivered to your home.
2. Feed Greens
Most of the rest of your Guinea Pig’s diet will be made up of fresh greens, vegetables, and herbs, with some fruit treats thrown in. Harder greens like broccoli encourage your Guinea Pig to eat and grind their teeth down so that they are a healthy length.
3. Look for Signs of Overgrown Teeth
Whether because of illness or because your Guinea Pig isn’t grinding its teeth down enough, you should look for signs of overgrown teeth. If you’ve never had Guinea Pigs before, you may not recognize what is a suitable length and what is too long. A Guinea Pig’s teeth should be around 0.6 inches long. If they look longer or if your Cavie is showing signs of discomfort when eating, it may be time to have them checked.
4. Consult a Vet
If your Guinea Pig’s teeth are too long, it can cause discomfort. Your Cavie may ignore hard food and opt for soft foods and its appetite may wane if eating is too painful. Look for these and other signs, such as swelling of the face or extra saliva or wetness around the mouth. The teeth are very important to rodents like Guinea Pigs so if you are in any doubt whatsoever, consult a vet and have them look at the teeth for you. Their molars, or cheek teeth, can also develop problems like sharp edges that cut into the soft tissue inside the mouth, and your vet will be able to check this.
Do You Have to Cut Guinea Pig Teeth?
Generally, a healthy Guinea Pig should not need to have its teeth cut. The teeth will be gradually ground down over time as the Cavie grinds on its hay and eats its food. However, there are exceptions. Keep a regular check on the length of the teeth and if they seem to be getting too long or are causing an obstruction, take your little rodent to the vet.
Do Guinea Pigs Feel Pain in Their Teeth?
Your Guinea Pig does not feel pain in the tooth itself, but they have a network of roots under the teeth, and, like people, Guinea Pigs can get abscesses and suffer other types of dental pain.
What Are the Signs of Long Teeth?
Other than the physical length of the teeth, the main sign of long teeth in Guinea Pigs is a change in eating habits. Your Guinea Pig may start to avoid harder food and instead opt for the soft food options. Alternatively, they may avoid food altogether or start to eat less. Monitor how much food you give your Cavie and how much they consume each day so that you will be able to tell if yours is eating less or if there are any other changes in their eating habits.
Guinea Pigs are fascinating pets. They are large rodents, which means that they rely heavily on their teeth. These are used to cut and shred food, as well as to grind food down into an edible pulp, and like other rodents, Guinea Pigs have teeth that grow continuously. A healthy Guinea Pig with a good diet will grind its teeth down to a suitable and manageable length, and you will likely never have to have them cut or ground down.
However, if your Cavie gets ill or suffers an injury to its mouth or teeth, you may have to have the teeth cut, and this does necessitate visiting a vet. Attempting to cut your Guinea Pig’s teeth yourself can cause injury and may lead to even worse dental problems.
Featured Image Credit: Vince Scherer, Shutterstock