In order for a horse to avoid lameness while staying in top shape and performing well, every part of its body needs care and attention. While you might think that the hooves are more important than the horse’s mouth, oral health actually has a strong connection to overall physical health and wellbeing in horses, just as it does in people and other animals.
Why Do Horses Need Dental Care?
Wild horses survive just fine without dental care. So, many people naturally wonder why domestic horses need to have their teeth looked after.
Horses have hypsodontic teeth, which are molars that grow continuously. In the wild, a horse’s natural diet consists mostly of rough forage that wears down their teeth at the same rate they grow. In domestic care, horses’ diets differ greatly, and most only spend a small fraction of time actually foraging. As a result, their teeth can grow out of control, resulting in an uncomfortably uneven bite and dangerously sharp cusps that can damage the soft tissues in their mouths.
Poor dental health and upkeep can lead to lameness in a horse and difficulties when wearing a bit. It can also affect a horse’s ability to eat well and maintain a healthy weight in addition to affecting the body with a host of systemic issues that can develop as a result of dental disease.
How Often Do Horses Need Dental Care?
In foals, the proper development of teeth is essential to the horse’s overall development and health as it grows into an adult. A foal’s teeth should be examined during its first wellness examination and about every three months after. With more frequent examinations, abnormalities can be detected and corrected early on before they develop into more serious problems.
A horse should have its first comprehensive dental examination and float between 18 and 24 months of age. Until the horse reaches dental maturity at around age 5, we recommend annual to biannual dental exams. After this time, we typically recommend scheduling a routine dental exam and float appointment about once a year for healthy adult horses.
Equine Dentistry in Tucson
Our equine veterinarians and Jackpot Veterinary Center in Tucson provide comprehensive, thorough dental exams for horses of all ages. We’re highly experienced and look forward to helping your horse achieve optimal performance. To schedule an appointment, we welcome you to contact our office today.