When you think of hamsters, you might picture a tiny furry pet nibbling on a seed with adorably puffy cheeks. Hamsters are a part of the rodent family, which means they have strong incisors that love to gnaw. Pets that love to snack and chew might require their human parents to monitor their furry friend’s dental health.
Luckily, if your hamster has a well-balanced and nutritious diet, they should stay safe from any dental issues arising. There are a few things that you can do as a hamster pet parent to ensure that your hamster’s teeth stay healthy and clean (in addition to proper nutrition).
If you are thinking about adopting a hamster or already have one and want to learn about taking care of their teeth, keep reading!
Hamster’s upper and lower front incisors have open roots, meaning they continuously grow throughout their lifetime. Because of this, it’s essential that your hamster is able to gnaw so they can keep their teeth at a comfortable length. Their teeth are not white but rather an orange-yellow color.
A hamster’s lower teeth are actually longer than their upper teeth, which might be a bit odd to see at first, but it’s nothing to worry about! With access to proper care and nutrition, your hamster will likely have relatively healthy teeth.
Common Dental Problems for Hamsters
Of course, there are always things that you should look out for when it comes to your hamster’s teeth. Fractures, cavities, overgrowth, and crooked teeth might lead to further complications without veterinarian assistance.
When your hamster isn’t able to gnaw on toys, wood chips, or food properly, they risk overgrowth in their teeth. Hamsters need to be able to shorten their teeth constantly, so these teeth don’t poke into the gums and cause bleeding. If both the upper and lower incisors are too long, they could break off, which would be extremely painful.
When your hamster’s upper and lower incisors are overgrown, they are at a higher risk of fracturing. If the incisors break off, they might not grow back in correctly, or ever at all. Not only is this painful for your hamster, but it could impact their ability to eat food comfortably.
Just like humans, hamsters can get cavities. Prevention of cavities goes along with proper nutrition. Hamsters should get a healthy variety of different ingredients to get the proper vitamins and nutrients needed to maintain healthy teeth.
A well-rounded menu will work to keep your pet healthy and cavity-free. If you suspect your fluffy friend has a cavity, take them to their veterinarian for an evaluation.
Cheek Pouch Disease
Hamsters have cheek pouches that they use to carry a variety of things. They might use them for storing food, carrying their babies, or bringing straw to build a nest. To get these items out, a hamster will massage their cheeks with their front paws. Cheek pouch disease occurs when items get stuck to the lining of your hamster’s cheek pouch, and they cannot massage it out.
You might notice that your hamster is experiencing cheek pouch disease if they:
- Have large swollen cheeks
- Rub their pouches incessantly, but nothing is coming out
- Bleed after they rub their pouches
- Have a lack of appetite
How To Care for Hamsters’ Teeth
There are ways to prevent dental issues from arising in your hamster, and they are quite simple.
While having access to dental care is essential, pet parents can help with these steps:
Offer Fresh and Dry Food
Your hamster will need a variety of ingredients and food types in their diet. This helps to prevent cavities and keep their teeth strong. You should give your hamster both dried and fresh fruits and vegetables, oats, spelt, and a variety of seeds, like sunflower, millet, and soy.
You can also purchase dry food like pellets at a pet store. Incorporating dry food into your hamster’s diet can cover any nutritional gaps in the fresh food you provide. Dry food is also one avenue to keeping your hamster’s teeth short.
Keep Their Water Clean
Water will help to keep your teeth clean and rinse out anything that might get stuck between them. This can help limit food buildup that could cause a cavity in the future. By keeping an eye out on their water
Clean water will be the easiest way for you to help their cheek pouches stay clean. Water will keep them hydrated and help rinse the cheek pouches in case something is stuck to the lining.
Provide Chew Toys
Chew toys are an essential part of keeping your hamster’s teeth healthy. Wooden chew toys are some of the best for hamster dental health care, but you should invest in good wooden toys that won’t splinter.
Wooden toys should be free of paint or varnish, which could be potentially toxic. A plain, wooden toy will do the trick. Your vet or local pet store can provide animal-safe enrichment and health-promoting toy options.
Chew toys keep their teeth from growing too long and cutting into other parts of their mouth. You should have plenty to keep your hamster entertained. The more you have, the less likely your hamster will try to gnaw on objects that could cause them damage. There are other toys out there than just plain wood, so you can find fun options for your hamster to enjoy.
Get Answers with AskVet
Questions will arise no matter what kind of pet you have, and as a pet parent, you want answers as soon as possible. Not only does this ease your anxiety, but it also can get you started on a treatment plan for your pet. And we want to help!
When it comes to your hamster’s teeth, you might not be able to get a great view of them on your own. It’s important to stay tuned into your hamster’s habits and take note of any health or behavioral changes.
If something does come up, you can always reach out directly to a veterinarian or behaviorist through AskVet. With 24/7 availability, you can ask whatever question you have, whenever. For just $9.99/month, our team of Certified Petlifestyle Coaches™ is here to answer your questions and come up with a unique pet care lifestyle plan for any furry (or scaly or feather-y) pet you have.
So, whether you have a question about your hamster’s teeth or your fish’s tail, or more, become a member of AskVet today.