Health Care for Horses
Reprinted from horses.extension.org
Proper dental care is essential to maintaining a healthy horse and regular dental checkups should be included in every horse’s health care program. Horses with healthy teeth will be more comfortable, utilize feed more efficiently, may perform better and will likely keep their teeth longer. Common dental problems in horses include the following: sharp enamel points which cause lacerations of the checks and tongue; retained deciduous teeth, or baby teeth and “caps”; malocclusions, the improper alignment of the upper and lower teeth, which lead to uneven wear and overgrowth of teeth; fractured teeth; loose or missing teeth, and infected teeth and/or gums. Regrettably, many horses do not show signs of dental problems until it is too late to correct them. Regular dental care can prevent many problems from occurring and allows correction of minor problems before they become severe. Dental care should begin with foals. Foals should be examined shortly after birth and again around weaning for congenital birth defects. If congenital defects are recognized early, surgical or orthodontic correction may be possible. Dental exams should then be performed once or twice a year, depending on the age and use of the horse. Younger horses, performance horses and geriatric horses will likely benefit from more frequent exams. Your veterinarian will help you set up an appropriate dental care plan.