Dental health and pets – Horses, dogs and cats
February is Pet Dental Health Month, and an important time to raise awareness about your pet’s health! Today we’re sharing tips on dental health for horses and more generally for the animals in your household.
Horse Dental Health
Tips from our blog, No horsing around with dental health.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” It’s an old proverb that relates to evaluating the age and health of a horse by looking at its teeth. At the Ontario SPCA, looking into the mouths of the horses that come into our care comes with the territory and is essential to ensuring our equines thrive.
If you have a dog or cat at home, you know that your veterinarian will examine their mouth to look for decay, broken teeth or dental disease. Horses get the same treatment, but need a little extra maintenance called “floating.”
The daily grind
Unlike a human’s teeth, a horse’s molars and premolars – known as cheek teeth – slowly erupt throughout most of its life. That constant “growth” is worn down at a rate of two to three millimeters per year as the horse chews its food using a side-to-side grinding motion. It sounds like the perfect grinding system – except for one issue. The horse’s lower jaw is narrower than its upper jaw, which leads to the formation of sharp points along the edges of the teeth. Sometimes those points can become so sharp that a horse will lose weight because eating becomes painful.
Older horses and horses with dental abnormalities may have additional issues that must be maintained or corrected. Senior equines often suffer from broken or missing teeth. Other common issues include under-bite and over-bite.
Good health starts in the mouth
Some of the horses that come into the care of the Ontario SPCA only require a routine float. Others require more extensive dental work. It’s an essential part of preparing horses for adoption. It’s also a responsibility adopters must be prepared for if they decide to adopt a horse as part of their horses’ annual checkup.
So the next time you hear the expression, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” you’ll have some facts about horse health care to impress your friends and family.
Listen to our podcast to learn about dental health for your other pets!
Some of the questions you can find answers to in this podcast include:
- What are some common misconceptions about dental care for pets?
- Why is dental care important for pets?
- What are the most common results of pet owners not caring for their pets’ dental health?
- How can pet owners prevent dental disease?
- What typically takes place and what is checked for when you bring your pet to the vet for a dental check-up?
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All of your wonderful staff & volunteers totally rock. The amazing compassion and work you provide on a daily basis is incredible.