Mice are low maintenance pets, but they can still develop conditions that require veterinary care. Dental problems are common in pet mice, so you need to pay attention to your pet's mouth. Without proper care, your mouse could suffer from dental overgrowth. Here are four things mouse owners need to know about dental overgrowth.
Why do mice get dental overgrowth?
Mice have continually erupting incisors, so their front teeth grow constantly throughout their lives. As long as they're able to chew on hard objects, their teeth will be worn down at an appropriate pace. If they aren't able to wear down their teeth, their incisors will continue to grow, and eventually they'll become much too large for their mouths. In severe cases, the teeth can become so overgrown that they pierce the skull.
How can dental overgrowth be prevented?
Preventing dental overgrowth in your pet mouse is easy. Your mouse will instinctively chew on anything that you put in their cage, so make sure to provide them with a selection of hard objects that will wear down their teeth. Commercially-available wood chews for rodents are a good choice, but rawhide chews or other chews designed for dogs are also acceptable. Household items like toilet paper tubes or egg cartons will also help your mouse wear down their teeth.
What are the signs of dental overgrowth?
If your mouse's incisors get too long, you may notice that your mouse is having trouble eating. This can also lead to weight loss. You may also notice signs of discomfort, like your mouse rubbing at its mouth. Pick up your mouse and take a closer look at their teeth. If your mouse doesn't like having their mouth touched, hold a carrot (or another favorite snack) in front of your mouse's mouth, and when they open their mouth to try to eat it, take a look at their teeth. Overgrowth will be readily apparent if it is present.
How is dental overgrowth treated?
Your vet will use a high-speed drill to trim your mouse's teeth. This drill will cut through the teeth without damaging them. While this procedure would be very painful for a person, mice—like other rodents—don't have nerves inside their teeth, so your pet won't suffer. If the teeth are very overgrown, the vet may recommend extracting them instead.
If you think your mouse is suffering from overgrown teeth, take them to a veterinarian by Peninsula Crossing Animal Hospital or a similar place for treatment.