August 23, 2012
Early detection of dental problems can help maintain horse health.
From AQHA Corporate Partner Pfizer Animal Health
For the overall well-being of your American Quarter Horses, routine dental care is important. Along with comprehensive dental exams, knowing the signs of when your horse is experiencing problems is just as vital.
Catching equine dental problems early is a central part of oral health. You may see indications of issues including dropping of feed while chewing, nasal discharge, foul-smelling breath, weight loss and facial swellings that call for immediate attention.1 Also, you may see clear signs of pain or irritation in your horse, such as fighting the bit or tossing his or her head – or possibly no visible signs at all. Early detection of these potential problems allows for faster intervention, which will hopefully minimize the impact of the problem over the lifetime of your companion.1
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If your horse’s teeth are regularly examined and cared for, you should be able to avoid most dental or health complications. Despite this, currently about 56 percent of equine owners do not provide regular dental care for their horses.2 Regular oral examinations and treatment help promote longevity of the teeth, comfortable occlusion, efficient mastication and athletic performance. 1 The frequency of providing complete dental exams is dependent upon many factors — since each horse and situation may vary — but oral exams should be an essential part of an annual examination by a veterinarian. Generally, the American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends brief dental exams biannually until the horse reaches 5 years of age, a minimum yearly dental exam from ages 5 to 15 years, and biannual exams past 15 years of age.1
To help keep a close watch on the oral health of your horse, you can team up with your veterinarian to learn how to correctly monitor the condition of your horse’s teeth. By monitoring your horse’s teeth, you can take notice of changing dental surfaces and care for them before any complications arise.
1 American Association of Equine Practitioners. Equine Dental Care: What Every Horse Owner Should Know. 2008. Available at: http://www.aaep.org/health_articles_view.php?id=318. Accessed July 18, 2012.
2 Garber L. Equine ’98, Part I: Baseline Reference of 1998 Equine Health and Management. NAHMS survey, United States Department of Agriculture. Washington, D.C., August 1998:21-23.
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