Small Pet Dental Care: How to Clip Overgrown Teeth

Our small animal’s teeth are essential to their well being. If they are getting too long, it’s important to know how to cut them back to size.

Most pet rats and pet hamsters will not have a problem with their teeth during their lifetime. If your small pet is happily chewing on toys and food during the day, he will keep his teeth healthy and you will not need to trim them. However, if your furry friend hurts a tooth or becomes sick, it’s possible that tooth overgrowth or another problem will arise that will necessitate a tooth clipping. If you notice that some of your pet’s teeth are distinctly longer than others, your pet is drooling, or that your pet has stopped chewing, he may need to get his teeth trimmed.

Clipping your small animal’s teeth is not an easy task, so if you have never attempted it before, you should take your rat or hamster to the veterinarian and have him instruct you on how to do it. You should also make sure you have correctly identified that your animal needs a tooth clipping. If you don’t feel comfortable clipping your small animal’s teeth, then you should take him to the veterinarian each time it needs to be done. A confident, steady hand will be calming for your pet.

When clipping your rat or hamster’s teeth, follow these steps:

  • Wrap your pet in a small towel to help you hold him.
  • When clipping, it’s easiest to have two people doing the job. The first person should hold the animal and grip him at the scruff of the neck. This immobilizes the pet and forces him to open his mouth. The other person should do the clipping.
  • Feline nail clippers work well for this task, and when you cut, make sure to cut at an angle, slanting in towards the mouth. It’s important to leave the teeth at least a ½ inch long. For a guide, this is often where the teeth turn opaque.
  • When cutting, be careful that the rat or hamster’s tongue or cheek is not in between the tooth and the clippers. Be sure that your pet is steady and relaxed.
  • Make sure to cut each tooth separately, as cutting them together could cause them to split or shatter.
  • You can use a nail file to smooth down sharp edges on freshly cut teeth.