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8 Signs Your Horse Needs A Dental Checkup

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The most important part of horse ownership is keeping your horse’s health in check. Keeping your horse healthy isn’t strictly about keeping him fit or keeping his coat shiny. Dental care is super important in making sure that your horse can chew and process his feed to keep his weight in check and keep his health up. Keep reading to learn what signs to look out for that may mean he needs a dental checkup!

  • Dropping his feed  Sharp enamel points from normal wear can cause a horse that usually eats every piece of food  to change how he eats, resulting in dropped feed. Other causes might include loose or fractured teeth, periodontal disease, or foreign bodies in the mouth. 
  • Suddenly not eating either hay or grain In horses younger than 5, pain before, during, or after losing a baby tooth can make chewing unpleasant and difficult. In horses older than 20, loose teeth can make chewing difficult.
  • Dropping clumps of hay (quidding) This can be secondary to pain from sharp enamel points in any age horse. In older horses it can be a result of decreased chewing surface area that occurs naturally with age. 
  • Eating with the head tilted to one side Mouth pain from sharp enamel points on one side of the mouth might cause the horse to try to adjust his eating pattern by tilting his head.
  • Salivating more than normal The horse’s body might increase saliva production in an attempt to lubricate something sharp or possibly make it easier to chew and swallow his feed. (This is not related to drooling caused by clover).
  • Losing weight This can  occur at any age due to a dental or mouth problem. The most common cases of sudden weight loss involve older horses that are unable to eat long-stem hay because of the inability to grind their teeth.
  • Nasal discharge with an odor Up to four of the six upper cheek teeth are connected to the sinuses in the horse’s head. If an abscess forms it can lead to a secondary sinus infection. Discharge from the infected sinus will drain out the nostril. It is usually yellow and has an odor you might be able to smell as soon as you walk into the barn or stall.
  • Mouth odor Mouth odor comes from food packed between cheek teeth or fractured tooth fragments.

Is your horse experiencing any of these issues? Has he had his teeth checked in the past few months or started to lose weight? Contact us at the office  to schedule a veterinarian to come out and perform a dental exam. Our office is open Monday – Friday from 8-5 and we have an emergency doctor on call 24/7.