Equine Dental Care: An Important Part of Your Horse's Overall Health
Unlike the natural diet and all-day grazing pattern of wild horses, today's horses often eat softer forage, are supplemented with grain or concentrated feed, and generally eat only two or three times a day. This contemporary lifestyle can adversely impact the health of your horse's teeth. In addition, horses are living longer than ever before, allowing ample time to develop dental problems later in life.
In order to keep your horse's mouth in good condition, we perform a thorough oral inspection at every wellness exam. From newborn foal all the way through a horse's senior years, dental exams are a vital part of our overall care for your horse.
For young horses, whose mouths are rapidly changing, we recommend a brief dental exam twice a year until your horse is 5 years old. After that, once a year is usually sufficient until your horse approaches his or her senior years, usually at about 19 years old. At that time, we recommend returning to twice-yearly exams.
Our veterinarians perform all the latest and most effective equine dental treatments, including:
- Manual floats—Hand held files for general teeth floating.
- Power floats—Motorized files for general and extensive floating.
- Whole mouth speculum—We use this tool to open the horses mouth, so that we can do a more thorough exam of your horse's mouth.
- Dental X-rays—We can take digital X-rays of your horse's mouth, if needed, to look for infected or diseased teeth, sinus infection, tumors, or wolf tooth fragments.
- Extraction—We may determine it best to remove loose or diseased teeth for your horse's comfort and health.
We believe that horses receiving skilled dental care throughout their life are less likely to develop more serious problems in their senior years. Horses are experts at managing oral issues and often by the time an owner suspects dental trouble, the issue could be quite severe.
Possible signs of an equine dental problem include:
- Dropping feed while eating
- Head turning or thrusting into feed while eating
- Unprocessed feed in the stool
- Fighting or chewing on the bit
- Difficulty maintaining weight
- Bucking, rearing, or other behavioral issues
For more information about equine teeth and dentistry, see this article by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
If you suspect your horse is experiencing dental problems, please contact us to schedule an exam.