My horse keeps dropping food. What does that mean?


Dropping food is one of the most common signs your horse is due for a dental. Over time, uneven wear causes sharp enamel points on your horse’s teeth, which can lead to pain and discomfort when chewing. If your horse is dropping food, a dental check is best.

 Every horse requires a dental examination at least once a year.

Foals should receive their first dental at nine months of age, with yearly dentals until they are 16. Senior horses, aged 16 and over, should receive dental check-ups at least twice yearly.

Due to the horse’s unique anatomy, their teeth continue to erupt throughout their life. Without regular maintenance, uneven wear, dental disease and digestive problems can result, which affect your horse’s health, wellbeing and, ultimately, their performance.

If your horse is dropping feed, it’s highly likely they are experiencing some pain or discomfort while chewing. To alleviate this, they may adopt an unusual chewing pattern and, thus, drop food.

Dropping food is one of the most common signs that your horse needs a dental examination. However, you may also notice some of the other common indicators which suggest dental disease, including:

  • Dull coat
  • Loss of condition
  • Head shaking or tossing
  • Excessive saliva production
  • Poor appetite or reluctance to eat
  • Bad breath
  • Nasal discharge
  • Blood in the saliva
  • Blood on the bit
  • Undigested feed in the manure
  • Head tilting while eating
  • Colic
  • Facial swelling
  • Behavioural problems

A dental examination by a qualified veterinarian is the only way to identify dental problems. Using specialised equipment, sedatives and analgesics, a veterinarian will be able to examine and treat every tooth, and diagnose disease.


  • Dr Louise Cosgrove

    The founder of Exclusively Equine Veterinary Services, Louise is driven to support horses in their recovery from injury or illness. A graduate of the University of Queensland, with international equin...

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