Equine Newsletter

Straight from the horse’s mouth


As horse owners, our horse’s health is very important to us, and we make sure our horses are vaccinated, dewormed, and have proper nutrition.  Too often dental care is the last thing we think about or is forgotten all together.  The average equine loses 2mm of tooth length per year.  This is dependant on their diet however.  For example, a horse that consumes sand will wear down their teeth faster than a horse just grazing on grass.  They start with 60mm of tooth, so this means that by the time they are 30 years old they are down to their roots.  Dental care is a vital part of our horse’s health, and cannot only improve his overall health and well-being but it can also help him/her perform to their best ability.


Fall is upon us and winter looms just around the corner.  As we start to gather our winter supply of hay we also need to start thinking about our horse’s teeth, and how to help prevent problems faced with feeding hay during the winter months.  Grass is soft, lush, and requires a very minimal amount of chewing, but hay requires much more chewing.  Horse’s teeth are continually erupting because of the constant grinding action from chewing.  Problems occur for a variety of reasons but the result remains the same-their teeth cannot come together for proper grinding action, missing teeth decrease grinding surface, or sharp edges are poking into their cheeks.  


All horses of all ages need dental care.  Foals should be checked for correct bite.  An incorrect bite can cause problems with them being able to nurse adequately.  Juvenile horses (1-5 years old) need to have their teeth checked to catch the small things early before they have a chance to turn into big issues.  Sometimes their caps, or deciduous teeth, don’t come off which puts the growth of the underlying tooth back.  This can start a wave mouth, but is easily fixed if caught and fixed early.  This is also the age where horses start their training.  Abnormalities with their teeth can cause some major pain once a bit goes into the mouth, and can set back their training.


Adult horses (5-18 years old) need to have their teeth checked on an annual basis.  This is going to help prevent a lot of biting issues and pain associated with the bit.  Bits can catch on hooks or points causing obvious discomfort.  Caught early these can be easily remedied, and avoid lots of frustration.


Senior horses (18-25 years old) and Geriatric horses (25+ years old) should have their teeth checked every 6 months.  The older horses tend to have more problems and missing teeth.  This can cause more problems in older horses because once they start to lose condition it can be very difficult to get it back.  In many cases you need to speak with your veterinarian about a proper nutrition program.  Many older horses need a supplemental feeding of a senior feed or need to be on a certain type of hay.  Sometimes wetting down the hay or soaking it is necessary to make sure your horse will be able to swallow and digest it properly.  Please consult your veterinarian before making major changes to your horse’s diet.





There are some key signs and symptoms your horse may exhibit if they having dental problems.   The following are a few signs/symptoms your horse may exhibit:

  • Dropping grain
  • Excessive salivation
  • Weight loss
  • Head tilt/shaking/tossing
  • Biting problems
  • Facial or jaw swelling
  • Undigested feed material in manure
  • Foul odor from mouth and/or nose
  • Purulent nasal discharge
  • Behavior changes
  • Some horses will show no symptoms at all.  

Every Horse.  Every Age.  Every Year.