Dentistry

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When you have finally found the perfect horse to take you to the winner’s circle, it’s tough to realize that he or she might be getting old. Many horses are now competing well into their late teens and early twenties, especially in certain disciplines such as dressage or show jumping where it takes many years of training to reach an elite level of competition. However, from a veterinary perspective, horses are considered geriatric as they reach the age of 15 to 20 years, which is when their physiological functions start to decline. The management of these horses becomes crucial to keep them competing at their best.

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When winter finally releases its icy grip, horse owners are eager to begin another riding season. While Canadians take national pride in fully embracing our cold snow-filled months, it’s hard to deny that springtime is a welcome sight, and horse owners are especially excited. Winter horse care can mean different things depending on your geographic location. Fluctuating temperatures in Eastern Canada create challenges for indoor housing. The Prairies cope with their incredibly frigid minus 40-degree C days (how you just “dress for it” I don’t know!). While in Western British Columbia there is constant rain from November to March. Dealing with any of those conditions makes both horse and human welcome the arrival of spring sunshine and open barn doors!

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Common Conditions, Challenges and Pain Recognition - Keeping a horse comfortable into their senior years requires an attentive caretaker backed by a knowledgeable team. It is important to seek the input from your veterinarian and farrier to help maintain the health of an elderly equine and to spot conditions that will need special treatment sooner rather than later. Recognizing changes and not just dismissing them as “old age setting in” is a large part of the responsibility assumed when caring for the senior horse.

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Regular checkups are an investment in your horse’s health - Everybody knows the importance of regular dental checkups when it comes to human health, so it should come as no surprise that horse health is just as dependent upon regular oral health checks.

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Equine weight loss is simply a result of more calories being used by the body than are being consumed. There are several potential causes of chronic weight loss in horses. These causes include poor quality or limited feed supply, health and disease problems, as well as social interaction and competition among horses. Chronic equine weight loss can also be the result of starvation. Equine starvation can be caused by intentional neglect, ignorance, economic hardship of owner, disease, dentition, pecking order, parasites, or seasonal variation in availability of pasture. Remarkably, horses can survive chronic weight loss.

Common Signs of Dental Problems in Horses

By Horse Council BC - Your horse needs proper dental care just like you do. Left unattended, gums and teeth may become damaged over time, or food may become trapped, resulting in inflammation, infection, and ulceration. A horse’s teeth should be checked annually (preferably bi-annually) for signs of abnormal wear and other dental problems that may cause the horse any pain or discomfort.

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Equine dentist Brian Borg covers the basics of equine dentistry. Looking at the teeth from horses of all ages, he explains how a horse's teeth erupt, how they wear down, and why regular dental check-ups are necessary for your horse's health.

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