With spring shortly upon us, many horse owners and riders are thinking about gearing their horses up for the upcoming season (be it mountain riding, competition, 4-H, etc.). Often this means increasing time in the saddle, and getting their horse’s annual health check and boostering their vaccines. An over looked aspect of equine health is their dental health.
Many of your horse’s teeth are constantly growing/erupting. This growth, how they chew, and the feed they are on, can lead to the development of sharp points on the edges of their teeth or abnormalities to the grinding surfaces of their teeth. These changes can cause damage and ulceration to their sensitive cheek tissue or their tongue, or lead to more complicated dental issues.
If you are noticing changes such as: dropping feed, tilting its head while eating or being ridden, weight loss, head tossing, poor or abnormal riding performance, a foul odour from the mouth, facial swelling, and/or nasal discharge you should have your veterinarian out to do a complete physical exam as well as dental evaluation.
If you have never had a licensed veterinarian examine your horse’s teeth, now is the time! Often based on a dental exam your veterinarian can determine if your horse needs to be floated, and then how often afterwards he/she should be rechecked. We recommend annual dental exams to ensure your horse’s mouth stays happy and healthy. This evaluation should be performed before a horse goes for training, or back to work; an uncomfortable mouth can lead to riding and performance issues. Annual examinations allow veterinarians to observe and treat any issues (i.e. retained caps or baby teeth, pockets in the gums, fractured teeth, sharp points or hooks, etc.) before major dental work or surgery may be required. Depending on your horses individual needs they may not need to be floated on an annual basis, but should at least be evaluated during their annual physical.
By maintaining proper dental health for your horse, you should see that your horse is more comfortable in the bridle, can utilize feed more efficiently, and may even perform better or live longer!
At Chinook Country Vet Clinic we recommend an annual examination of the entire horse, including their mouth. When a horse is floated it should be with the assistance of sedation to make your horse more comfortable and less stressed. This will allow us to fully visualize, examine, and treat the whole mouth. Horses should be floated and checked for wolf teeth or caps, before going to the trainer or heading back to work to ensure your horse has a comfortable mouth, and can focus on its job at hand. Horses of ANY size (mini to drafts) should be evaluated and floated if a veterinarian deems it needed.
If you have any concerns, questions, or would like to have your horse(s) evaluated please contact the clinic.
Posted by Dr. K Shacker