Dental Disorders in Prairie Dogs

PetMD Editorial
Sep 14, 2010
2 min read
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Malocclusion, Improper Alignment of Teeth, or Odontoma in Prairie Dogs

Your prairie dog's teeth grow continuously. It's only by constant gnawing that it is able to file them down to a reasonable size. However, uneven positioning of the upper and lower teeth when the jaw is closed, known as malocclusion, sometimes occurs. This may cause an overgrowth of the incisors or cheek teeth. As maloccluded teeth continue to grow, nearby tissues may be damaged.

This, however, is just one of the many dental disorders that affect prairie dogs. Broken or fractured teeth may also occur. Odontoma, in which the root of the incisor enlarges to the point that the nasal passage becomes blocked, is another dental ailment. This can cause breathing difficulties, among other issues.

Symptoms

  • Improper alignment of the teeth
  • Overgrown/broken incisors
  • Difficulty eating
  • Drooling
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Dental abscesses

Causes

Malocclusion may occur due to heredity, lack of vitamin C, injury, or imbalances of certain minerals in the diet. Meanwhile, broken teeth often occurs when a prairie dog chews on the wire mesh or bars of a cage. The cause for odontoma is uncertain, but it may be related to vitamin or mineral imbal­ances, lack of sunlight, or inadequate wear or pressure on the incisor teeth.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination and will check your prairie dog’s mouth for any kind of abnormalities. In case of fracture and/or odontoma, an X-ray will be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

If your prairie dog is slobbering or drooling, your veterinarian will evaluate this problem carefully. The affected teeth may need to be clipped or filed to help your pet prairie dog's jaw close properly. If the problem continues, monthly dental visits with your veterinar­ian may be necessary.

Your veterinarian may also prescribe calcium and other vitamin and mineral supplements if your prairie dog has been found to have an improper dietary history. If teeth become fractured, your veterinarian will trim them to avoid further damage. In cases of odontoma, treatment can be difficult because it includes addressing the underlying causes as well as surgery to correct it.

Living and Management

Regularly administer the medications prescribed and the diet formulated to help remove the dietary imbalances. In addition, monitor your pet's teeth and schedule follow-up exams with your veterinarian so that any dental issues can be immediately assessed and resolved.

Prevention

Malocclusion or odontoma developing due to dietary reasons can be prevented by feeding your prairie dog a well-balanced nutritious diet as well as mineral and vitamin supplements.

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