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Why do ferrets grind their teeth?

Observing your pet ferrets can reveal to you some intriguing behaviors. From the energetic way they play to some of the more subtle and not-so-pleasant hints they give you, you can expect to get to know your dookers by observing them.

Sadly, tooth grinding is not one of the better signs. Though it might not always be a big concern, if you have noticed something as such, you should watch out. In most cases, a ferret grinding its teeth can indicate stomach or belly pain.

Of course, there are other possible causes behind tooth grinding, some of which are more worrisome than others. They include things such as stress, dental issues, and unsuitable food.

In any case, if you notice a ferret of yours grinding its teeth, don’t rush to the vet. First and foremost, you should make sure that what you have seen really is tooth grinding.

How do I know if my ferret is grinding its teeth?

Ferrets are fairly stoic animals. Their signs of pain and discomfort are often quiet and more difficult to pick up on. That said when you know what you are looking for, caring for a ferret is a much less daunting of a task.

Generally, tooth grinding should be both visible and audible. If you notice your ferret chewing with no food in its mouth and hear it making a screeching, grinding sound, you might have caught your dooker in the act.

To see exactly what it looks and sounds like, check out the video below.

What does tooth grinding mean?

After you’ve identified that your ferret is, indeed, grinding its teeth, you can start looking for the cause of this behavior. When and how often a ferret does it are two great pointers that can lead you in the right direction.

On top of that, you should try to identify any of the accompanying signs of discomfort or distress. Tooth grinding is rarely the only sign; you only need to know what you are looking for.

Depending on the issue, the accompanying signs will be different. Getting the full picture is the easiest way to identify what’s going on with your ferret.

Gastrointestinal issues and discomfort

Tooth grinding could mean, amongst other things, that your dooker is experiencing some discomfort or pain in its digestive system.

There is a number of infections and diseases that could be responsible for this, but it could have also been caused by a foreign object that the ferret has swallowed.

This pain, however, rarely comes only with teeth grinding. Other symptoms to be watchful for include: constipation or smaller poops, diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, odd poop color/texture, and lethargy. Ferrets may also avoid lying on the painful spot or have a bloated belly if they’ve swallowed something.

Dental issues and new teeth

Ferrets may grind their teeth if they are feeling pain in their mouths. Be it when changing teeth (for ferrets around 10 weeks of age) or when experiencing the effects of a rotten tooth, a ferret’s instinctual reaction is to grind its teeth.

To check whether this may be the cause of the grinding, look for inflamed or irritated gums, loose or rotting teeth, difficulty eating, bad breath, or any other irregularities in the ferret’s mouth.

Unsuitable foods and medicines

Many ferret owners notice that their dookers only grind their teeth after eating. Most often, this is because the food the ferret is eating is upsetting its stomach.

Most kitten/dog foods and the cheaper ferret foods can cause issues in your ferret’s stomach. It may not be anything you need to run to the vet about, but consider looking into it so your ferrets will live a more healthy life.

The same goes for new medicines. Ferrets have sensitive stomachs. Furthermore, some substances don’t work for every stomach.

Stress and anxiety

If anything has recently changed in a ferret’s environment (say a new pet has been introduced into the house), it’s completely normal for a ferret to begin grinding its teeth. Unfamiliar situations stress ferrets out.

This issue does not require medical attention. It requires your attention. Give the ferret time to adjust to its surroundings; give it more attention and soothing if you find it appropriate or allow it to have more personal space.

Tooth grinding, in this case, can be accompanied by things like crying, whimpering, hiding away, trembling, hissing, and biting.

Other types of pain

Any pain can cause ferrets to grind their teeth from illnesses like Insulinoma in older ferrets to any external wounds. Tooth grinding is a way for ferrets to alleviate the pain they are feeling.

When should I be worried that my ferret is grinding its teeth?

There are many pains that come and go; the body can and does fight them off. You don’t need to run to the veterinarian every time your ferret’s teeth touch.

If the ferret’s teeth grinding is irregular, there are no other symptoms or the grinding continues only a day or two, everything should be fine. In the case that this behavior continues, consider visiting the vet even if there are no other signs of discomfort.

How do I go about helping my ferret?

Aside from noting any occurring changes and taking your pets to the vet, you can try to record a video of your ferret while it’s grinding its teeth. If you do that, your vet will be able to see exactly what you are talking about. They may even notice other accompanying behaviors you’ve missed.

This is really useful because it can help identify what’s wrong, and you can have it treated as soon as possible.

Tooth grinding is one of the early signs of many different issues. For your vet to find out the real problem, they’d have to do many time-consuming (and sometimes costly) tests.

It’s better for both your ferret and your wallet if you have some idea what the issue may be. That way, your veterinarian will know where to begin.

In conclusion…

Ferrets grind their teeth primarily to alleviate pain or discomfort. It may be an early sign of a dangerous illness, but it could also be due to an improper diet or even temporary stress.

What you need to remember is that a ferret grinding its teeth is not always a reason to worry. That said, it could very well become, so keep track of any other signs your ferret might be showing.

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