Without routine dental care, your horse’s health, wellbeing and performance will suffer. Every horse should receive a dental examination at least once per year, but more frequent check-ups may be required for your horse.
Unlike humans, your horse’s teeth continue to erupt throughout their life. This unique physiology, combined with their innate chewing behaviours, can result in sharp enamel points that cause discomfort to the lips, cheeks and tongue.
A dental examination by a qualified equine veterinarian at least once per year will help to prevent the development of dental diseases and reduce the formation of uneven teeth.
Your horse should receive their first dental at nine months of age. For any horse above the age of 16, dental examinations should be increased to twice yearly. And, of course, if your horse has experienced dental problems at any age, they may require more frequent dental examinations.
Signs of Dental Problems
The importance of dental care cannot be underestimated. Without healthy dentition, your horse will be unable to chew, digest and properly absorb their feed, which can drastically reduce their condition – and be costly to your back pocket.
However, dental problems can also lead to behavioural issues, long-term poor health and severe dental disease. There are several common signs that may indicate a dental problem, including:
- Dull coat, weight loss
- Head shaking, head tossing
- Spilling feed while eating
- Blood in the saliva, blood on the bit
- Excessive saliva production
- Poor appetite, reluctance to eat
- Bad breath, discharge from nostril
- Undigested feed in the manure
- Behavioural problems
- Head tilting during eating, eating slowly
- Facial swelling
Even if your horse has recently had a dental examination, these signs should alert you to the possibility of a dental problem. If any of these signs arise, we recommend you consult your equine veterinarian for further advice.