Like humans, horses can experience stress from various social and environmental factors. Everything from training, nutrition, and pasture time to feeding schedules and dental issues can cause stress. Some horses respond better than others, but the conditions can lead to behavioral and health problems.

Behavior Changes in Horses 

Changes in lifestyle or environment can lead to chronic stress and behavioral problems. A new diet or feeding schedule can cause stress. Some horses adapt to the changes easily, while others have a hard time adjusting. 

If you notice behavioral changes in your horses, try to track the changes you have made in their care. Knowing the triggers allows horse owners and trainers to take measures to keep their horses happy and healthy. 

Equine Dental Problems 

Horses today live longer than they did in the past. While this may be good news, it is unfortunate that their teeth are not developed to last over thirty years. Most domestic horses do not live in optimum conditions, which can lead to premature teeth attrition. 

Malocclusions often begin at an early age when permanent teeth start to erupt. If not corrected early, small issues can become major problems. A veterinarian with equine dentistry training can treat dental problems. 

Dental Care for Malocclusion

Dental issues can cause horses to be uncomfortable and lose weight. A horse's teeth wear down naturally each year with foraging. Sometimes, wear occurs unevenly, leading to pain and irritation of the soft oral tissue. 

A vet will recommend treatment if a horse is diagnosed with an overbite or dental malocclusion. An acrylic bite can help correct the condition while maintaining normal mandible motion. It helps to maximize mandible growth potential while reducing the risk of future dental complications. 

Regular Dental Examinations

Having healthy teeth allows horses to live longer and happier lives. Horses should receive annual comprehensive dental exams, the first before the age of two-and-a-half. The exams help to detect dental issues at an early stage. 

If detected early, dental issues, such as overbites and underbites, can be corrected without orthodontics or surgery. Unfortunately, most horse owners realize their horse is losing weight or having difficulty eating when their dental condition is severe. Periodontal disease is a common cause of equine tooth loss. 

Eating a Balanced Diet 

Horses need a regular feeding schedule and a well-balanced diet. 

A healthy diet contains essential nutrients, including:

  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Vitamins
  • Fats
  • Minerals

Horses need five to 15 gallons of water a day and adequate forage. A good feeding schedule involves several small meals throughout the day. Feeding a horse two heavy meals daily can lead to stress. A horse should have access to feed and roughage even as they rest in the stall. 

Horses should receive regular dental care to maintain good health and comfort. A veterinarian will help determine the most appropriate schedule based on age. Older horses have a higher risk of developing periodontal disease, loose and fractured teeth, diseased roots, and other issues. Aggressive dental procedures may be necessary to treat severe periodontal disease. 

For more on balanced bites and the connection between dental health and behavior, visit South Willamette Veterinary Clinic at our office in Creswell, Oregon. Call (541) 895-5665 to book an appointment today.

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