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How to care for a ferret's teeth

by Vets-net.com May 15 2009

A ferret's teeth need the same proper care that we give our own teeth. When not properly cleaned, the teeth will display plaque build-up and tarter which can lead to dental diseases. Teeth maintenance should become part of the ferret's grooming routine which when done regularly, can prevent painful and costly disorders of the ferret's teeth and gums.

Prevention of tarter build-up is crucial which is controllable with a proper ferret diet.

Use a dry ferret food and limit sugar-based treats whenever possible. Over time, a ferret's teeth will start to display a yellow tint that may also include brown spots on the teeth even when the ferret is provided a proper diet. These are definite signs that it's time for a dental cleaning.

It is recommended to have regular check-ups with an experienced veterinarian. These check-ups will include a close examination of the ferret's teeth and can let owners know if there are any potential problems within the mouth. For owners who are unable to clean the teeth of their squirming ferret, the veterinarian can give the teeth a thorough cleaning to remove any plaque and tarter build-up. This procedure is known as a "prophylaxis" which also includes polishing the teeth back to their pearly white color.

A veterinarian specializing in ferret care will examine the mouth and teeth for any abnormalities including swelling, fractured teeth, and any signs of disease. An experienced ferret handler with the proper tools and a willing ferret can also keep the teeth clean of tarter and plaque. However, a thorough cleaning is typically done by anesthetizing the ferret which is the preferred method.

Having a professional clean a pet ferret's teeth is highly recommended since using sharp dental tools near the gums takes a steady hand especially on a moving ferret which is why anesthetizing is always the safest way to go. An experienced ferret veterinarian can also seal the teeth to prevent future tooth decay. Since abscesses and broken canine teeth can become a problem with a ferret's teeth, it is important to have schedule routine check-ups as well as examine the teeth during every grooming session.

Ferret owners can also use a cat-sized toothbrush to clean the teeth if the ferret is willing. It is important to not over-stress the ferret when cleaning the teeth. By starting regular brushing when the ferret is a kit, the less chance that the ferret will rebel as it gets older. Use the brush in an up and down motion and don't be surprised if you are unable to reach the back teeth. A gentle message below the ears near the jaw hinge will typically cause a ferret to yawn which allows an owner to get the brush into the mouth. Proper dental treatment begins with prevention. Any signs of abscesses, swelling, tooth decay, and dental disease that owners may notice in the ferret's mouth need to be treated by a veterinarian.

Ferrets should have a yearly visit with a veterinarian and more often as the ferret ages. A prophylaxis session usually takes less than 30 minutes depending upon the amount of build-up. Ferrets that have been diagnosed with dental disease should be seen by a veterinarian at least twice a year or as recommended by the vet. A happy and health ferret is one that receives proper care which includes regular maintenance of the teeth, gums, and mouth.

Source: Angela Pollock on Helium.com

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Vets-net.com, founded in 2002 by a veterinarian, is based in The Netherlands. Our extensive collection of animal health information is the ever developing end product of an ongoing global review of professional veterinary resources. All content that becomes part of this collection undergoes a stringent editorial review process, producing impartial, balanced and accurate medical information of a high scientific quality. The medically related content for professionals is sourced from a common professional veterinary data base.