Good dental health is essential to your horse’s wellbeing. And it’s not just irregular wear that can cause dental issues – some studies have shown that up to 70% of horses have undiagnosed dental disease.
Ideally, your horse should get its teeth checked once a year – and even more frequently for horses under 5 and over 20. But if that dental check-up isn’t happening quite as often as it should, here are 5 signs that your horse needs its teeth looked at.
1. Bad odour or drooling
If your horse has bad breath, a likely cause is dental disease. It may be an infection of the gums, or an infected or rotten tooth that needs attention. Excessive drooling can also indicate a dental issue.
2. Eating issues
Problems with the way your horse eats is often a dead giveaway of a dental condition. Common eating issues to look out for include:
- An inability to chew, or if your horse chews differently on one side compared to the other
- Dropping feed from the mouth, or balling up of feed around the teeth or checks
- Spitting out balls of feed it has already chewed (also known as quidding)
- Chewing food very slowly
3. Weight loss
Chronic weight loss can also be a sign of dental problems - as without being able to chew properly, your horse will not be able to extract all the nutrition it needs out of its feed. However, overweight horses can also have bad teeth, so don’t assume their teeth are fine if they can still keep weight on.
Just like humans, horses’ teeth can be sensitive to extremes in temperature. Horses with dental issues may be reluctant to drink cold water – which is particularly a problem in our cold South Australian winter. Wetting your horse’s food or warming its drinking water can be used as stop-gap measures to avoid dehydration and constipation until you can enlist a vet to conduct a dental check-up.
5. Reacting to the bit or head tossing
If your horse is having issues with the bit, or tossing its head while being ridden, it may well be due to pain caused by ulceration or bad teeth. If your horse starts displaying behaviour changes, such as fussing or resisting the bit, or has increased head tossing, it’s well worth getting its teeth checked.
Does my horse really need annual dental check-ups?
It’s important to remember that looking out for the warning signs that your horse may have a problem with its teeth is never a replacement for a regular dental check-up. Early indications of dental disease are often very subtle, and your animal may not show any outward signs of discomfort.
Having your horses’ teeth checked regularly by a vet who is extensively trained in equine anatomy and physiology ensures you have a comprehensive picture of its overall dental condition, avoiding serious long-term health issues.
Here at Cameron Veterinary Services’, our passion for equine dentistry is second to none. Dr Lachie and the team undertake equine dental training to ensure they are drawing on the latest techniques and knowledge in treating your animals.
Contact the CVS team
Did you know that we have regular dental runs across the Adelaide Plains and Gawler regions? We have regular scheduled dental runs and offer 50% off travel fees if you book on of our regular travel days.
Call us today on 08 8389 4577 to book your equine dental appointment.
Small animal clinic coming soon!
Have you heard our exciting news? In late July we will be opening a dedicated small animal clinic in the newly developed suburb of Springwood, Gawler East.
We’re so excited to expand our range of services, and soon be able to look after animals of all sizes!