Having experienced the hard end of the topic, I have learnt a few ways to deal with guinea pigs and their health problems, but more central to this article their teeth and eating patterns.
It is sometimes hard to notice at first when your guinea pig is losing weight due to malocclusion or teeth problems. If you keep a constant eye on your pet there are easy ways to find out if they are suffering.
Check for loss of weight. Many breeds of guinea pigs have very bony skeletons so their boniness is nothing to work off but if you check their weight every 2 weeks it will ensure that you spot teeth problems early.
If they are losing weight or are making unfamiliar noises with their teeth, then this may be because of a dental problem. Your next step is to check the animal's teeth. This is sometimes hard depending on how tame your pet is. If you have someone else who can help you this is ideal because you can position your hands round the guinea pig to comfortably restrain it. First you place one hand under the stomach which lifts it up so that is standing on its hind legs. You then place the other hand in the same position. Next you should place one finger above and one finger below the 2 front paws. The other person should then push back the cheeks and examine the teeth. This may be hard at first but is easy with practice. Don't worry if at first it tries to resist because it should be in no pain as a result of the restraining and in the end it is for its own benefit.
If you discover that the pet has a teeth problem you should call your vet and arrange an appointment. The signs of dental problems are malformed teeth (bent out of shape) or outwards growing so that they scrape against its cheeks. Also a less obvious one to look out for is if you imagine as it biting down, if it looks as if some of the teeth are overgrown so it prevents the others from making contact then this could stop the pet from being able to eat.
Once you go to your vet they will most likely cut/trim its teeth and supply you with a syringe and food mix for your guinea pig. Most trimming won't need an anesthetic but sometimes in more severe cases may be needed. Once you have returned from the vet you should consider why it had the problems in the first place. Sometimes it is hereditary or from a lack of roughage or vitamin C. This is easily compensated for: you can place more hay in its living space and place a few twigs that it can grind its teeth down on. As they are herbivores, their teeth are constantly growing so they need to be ground down, this usually happens when the animal chews, but sometimes if it has inherited fast growing teeth then it will require twigs and high vitamin C to maintain healthy growth. Vitamin C can be found in most greens such as spinach.
You can cut and trim the guinea pigs teeth using special kits but it is advised that you have training on how to use them as it can easily go wrong. Also you may not be able to do the procedure as it can be unpleasant.
If you have any other questions don't hesitate to leave a comment below and I will try to answer your questions, but seeing a vet is always advisable.
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Thanks for reading,
Violet on July 19, 2015:
My guinnea pig has been acting weird. I don't know what is wrong with her. She won't stand up, and her bottom teeth touch the top of her mouth and vets are to expensive. Can I trim them myself?
Mark on January 08, 2014:
Our guinea pig always seems to be grinding his teeth together but has a pet log in the cage which he chews and is always chewing his plastic hut so grinding his teeth down doesn't seem to be an issue but wonder why he always seems to be grinding his teeth together?
Greg on January 12, 2010:
Thanks for the great info! My liitle guy is having some issues and I'm trying to figure it out. Thanks!