February is National Pet Dental Care Month. So we thought it would be a good idea to kick off the month with an article on Equine Dental. Care to go with the theme.
Just like us, horses require regular dental check-ups. An annual check-up is usually sufficient. But older horses and horses with problem teeth need to be looked at every 6 months. Horses are hypsodonts – meaning they have very long teeth that are constantly growing out of their jaw bone. On average a horses tooth grows (and wears down) 2-3mm per year. As the teeth are worn down, they create sharp points and edges which are very uncomfortable for the horse. So they need to be filed away.
Because of the discomfort these edges cause, the horse may be reluctant to chew his food properly, he may drop some food (called quidding) and he may lose weight. There are many other signs to look out for that could indicate a need for the dentist – being difficult to bridle, naughty under saddle, head tossing, eating slower than usual. If the problem is really bad, they can drool, and they may develop bad breath and smelly nasal discharge (indicating an infection).
Dental issues in the wild
Why doesn’t this happen in the wild you may ask?
Well, in the wild, horses are constantly grazing, and they do not eat softened food. So their teeth are constantly (and mostly evenly) worn down. If a horse in the wild had an issue with his teeth and was having trouble eating he would not survive very long – survival of the fittest as it goes. In the environment we keep horses these days, their food is softer, so the wear on the teeth is different and they live longer – so more time to develop issues. It’s not to say that wild horses do not have teeth issues – they just don’t survive very long with them…
We hope this article has been interesting and informative to you, we will keep them coming.
Lend a helping hand:
Our horses are overdue for the dentist and we are currently running a campaign to get them all sponsored for their treatment. A check-up is currently R700.00 per horse. If you are able to help in any way, please feel free to contact us or alternatively donate to our dental campaign.
Simply donate on one of the below payment platforms:
Thanks for the support!