Irish Independent - Farming - - HORSES - Warn­ing signs

THERE are two key con­sid­er­a­tions to pre­vent den­tal prob­lems — reg­u­lar check-ups and en­sure that your horse’s diet con­tains enough long fi­bre.

÷ For young­sters, it is sen­si­ble to start rou­tine den­tal care in the first year of life, with check-ups ev­ery year there­after.

÷ Once your horse reaches 12 years of age, or if he has ab­nor­mal den­tal con­for­ma­tion, the time be­tween check-ups may need to be re­duced to ev­ery six months.

÷ Such check-ups should be per­formed by a vet or suit­ably qual­i­fied equine den­tal tech­ni­cian.

÷ You can help your horse by pro­vid­ing at least half of his diet as good qual­ity long fi­bre. If you have an older horse, he may re­quire spe­cial at­ten­tion with his diet, es­pe­cially if he is miss­ing teeth and strug­gles to chew long fi­bre. Fi­bre re­place­ments of­fer a good so­lu­tion in such cases, but speak to your vet with any con­cerns or to an equine nu­tri­tion­ist for feed­ing ad­vice.

Many horses will suf­fer silently from den­tal dis­ease, so it is im­por­tant to have reg­u­lar check-ups to en­sure their mouth is healthy. Signs that can in­di­cate there is a prob­lem are:

÷ hal­i­to­sis (bad smelling breath);

÷ quidding — drop­ping par­tially chewed food;

÷ re­duced ap­petite/dif­fi­culty eat­ing/slow eat­ing; ÷ food pack­ing within cheeks;

÷ poorly di­gested food in drop­pings;

÷ weight loss;

÷ dif­fi­cul­ties when rid­den such as an un­steady head car­riage.

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