Equine Dental Care
Equine dental care is important to maintain a horse’s health, just as with humans. Horses chew and grind their food and any problem can create nutritional and other health issues. Horses’ teeth grow until the age of about twenty-five. Wild horses eat wild tough grass and wear their teeth out naturally. Confined horses are given alfalfa hay and the like which are softer and do not wear the teeth out sufficiently and evenly. This in turn creates uneven sharp edges which can cut the tongue and cheek in addition to preventing proper chewing of the grass.
Most veterinarians recommend dental procedures and checkups every six to twelve months. A complete dental examination includes thorough examination with checks for infection, malocclusion, loose teeth, dental irregularities or any other dental problems. Diseased teeth must be extracted and tooth surfaces shaped and or filled. Sometimes teeth are implanted. Just as with humans, the vet will record all the procedures performed and irregularities corrected or observed as a reference base for future use.
All horse owners must be sensitive to the needs of their horses. Teeth problems must be anticipated along with other problems and the necessary funds for the treatment kept aside. Owners must also be able to recognize the symptoms and signs indicating emerging dental problems. These signs include shyness, dull coat, head tossing, weight loss, foul breath, unwillingness to eat, poor performance, excessive salivation, facial swelling, refusal to take lead and throat impaction among others. Any of these signs is a sure cause for immediate veterinary assistance and check up for the horse.
Getting the horse to the height of its performance levels does not just happen but is a result of constant and continuous care. Care must be regular and not sporadic, as and when the owner wants to or has the funds for, in order to keep the horse in optimum health conditions. The expenses for treating problems are usually more expensive than the prevention of the problem itself. Regular checkups can stop the problem from escalating to serious situations that could even result in the death of the horse. Prevention is always better than cure.
Always remember that to maintain the horse functioning at the optimum level, it must receive the proper and adequate nutrition according to its breed, age and function. The horse must receive all its immunization vaccines, given to immunize it against serious, transmittable, infectious diseases that include influenza, encephalitis, tetanus and rabies amongst others. The owner or handler must check the mouth for sores at least once weekly. During this check, the cheeks must be palpated to check for unevenly worn, pointed edges in the teeth. Check for raw gums and any other bucal problem. Call the vet immediately if any condition is noted so that the horse can get immediate attention. Always have the vet’s telephone numbers handy and a substitute vet for any emergencies.
Regular checkups and preventive care will help maintain a horse healthy and problem free, giving the owner years of good service.