Looking After Your Horse’s Teeth – 6 Top Tips:
As a horse-loving owner, you naturally want to take responsibility for your folly friend’s health and general well-being – giving it a ‘nice life’ so to speak. Aside from the fact your horse needs feeding, grooming, shelter and exercise, your horse’s teeth can also play an important part in their overall health.
At the age of five your horse’s teeth are buried deep within its upper and lower jaw and will erupt over a 10-15 year period at a rate of 2-3mm per year. Most horses find it difficult to ‘wear down’ their teeth at the necessary rate due to the way they are kept – eating soft grass, soft hay, wearing bits and time spent in the stable are all contributing factors.
To help with the ongoing dental care, here are 6 tips to keep your horse’s pearly whites in tip top condition:
Pay attention to your horse’s feeding and general behaviour as this can indicate signs early on that your horse may be suffering with dental problems. For example, your horse may start dropping food, losing weight or eating more slowly than usual. If you see the warning signs, enlist the help of your friendly vet or qualified equine dental technician to prevent these problems from escalating.
Did you know your horse has a total of 36 teeth, with males having an additional four canine teeth? That’s a lot of teeth to take care of so make sure you brush your horse’s teeth with a stiff brush regularly to prevent any build-up of grass or excess food getting trapped between your horse’s incisors. Us humans don’t like bad breath so we’re pretty sure your horse won’t want to put up with halitosis either!
Prevention is always better than cure so ensure regular dental checks (about every 6-12 months) are carried out with your vet or equine dental technician not only to prevent disease but also to ensure they are more comfortable when ridden. Be mindful that horses suffer in silence, even with advanced dental disease.
Feed your horse from the ground as this is how they are designed to eat. This way you ensure the jaw is aligned correctly and breaks down the food, reducing the risk of abnormal wear to the teeth. Horses are designed to chew for over 18 hours a day – that’s a lot of time spent chewing so the more comfortable they are, the more they will enjoy their food.
Ensure your horse’s diet contains enough long fibre. If your horse is older and has missing teeth then it may struggle to chew this type of fibre, this is where replacements offer a good solution, so seek the expert advice of an equine nutritionist if needed.
Be aware when your horse’s last check-up was, don’t put off scheduling your vet or equine dental technician in the diary – healthy teeth ensure a happy and healthy horse!