Common Signs of Dental Problems in Horses
By Horse Council BC
Your horse needs proper dental care just like you do. Left unattended, gums and teeth may become damaged over time, or food may become trapped, resulting in inflammation, infection, and ulceration. A horse’s teeth should be checked annually (preferably bi-annually) for signs of abnormal wear and other dental problems that may cause the horse any pain or discomfort.
Young horses, before being introduced to a bit and bridle should have their teeth checked to ensure there are no dental issues that will cause pain. Older horses (around 15 years of age and up) will require more frequent dental checks to confirm that they are not experiencing any oral pain, and so that any issues that do arise can be dealt with promptly.
Pain resulting from overgrown teeth and sharp points or hooks can cause your horse to misbehave under saddle or stop eating properly. On the other hand, horses with worn or abnormal teeth are unable to easily chew their food, resulting in poor digestion.
Some common signs of equine dental problems are:
• Food not being chewed properly
• Dropping food out of the mouth when the horse is eating
• Weight loss or trouble maintaining weight
• Poor overall condition (i.e. dull coat)
• Reluctance to accept bit contact
It is important to have routine inspections to avoid or stop problems in the early stages and prevent suffering. Good preventative dental care will go a long way in keeping your horse healthy, comfortable and reduce care costs. Your veterinarian is trained to do dental work and will help you decide on an appropriate dental care plan for your horse.
This article was reprinted with kind permission from Horse Council BC. As one of the most successful membership driven multi-breed, multi-discipline provincial equine organizations in Canada, Horse Council BC represents the equine community in BC by collaborating with individuals, businesses, and industry professionals to strengthen communication, education, and safety. For more information about Horse Council BC, and access to further equine educational material free of charge, visit www.HCBC.ca.
Main Article Photo: Pete Markham/Flickr