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  • Writer's pictureellis co. animal hospital

The Ugly Truth About Teeth Floating

Let’s talk teeth. Not yours, it’s that wonderfully large, four legged, eating machine called your horse. I know you’re probably sitting there thinking about how much that new saddle, tack, feed, hay, etc. just cost, but weathering a winter can be extremely tough if they’re not getting all the nutrients out of that expensive feed you just stashed in your barn.

The rough details:

1. Young horses up to the age of 5 should be checked every 12 months for retained caps, wolf teeth and hooks needing floated.

  • Yes, messing around with that colt long enough to see inside their mouths is not anyone’s favorite task. Mostly because…well they are babies and think that a strong breeze might kill them, let alone you messing with their face.

  • A little bit of familiarizing them with you having to check their face, teeth, tongue will help you later in life! WE PROMISE!

  • If your problem child has problem teeth you may have to make a visit every 6 months instead of yearly.

2. Most horses after the age of 5 will need their teeth floated once a year.

  • We try to make the most out of our visits, especially if it involves sedation. So plan for sheath cleaning, vaccinations & deworming (if they haven’t been already), ear checks and a good overall checkup.

3. Older/Senior (20+) horses should have their teeth floated at least once a year and examined twice a year.

  • The longer teeth are left at an incorrect angle with jagged hooks, the longer it may take to correct the problem (Which means more visits, more sedation and more money!).

  • Catching hooks on teeth early can mean we skip cut gums, a cut tongue and weight loss.

4. Native grass in dry areas (ie.the panhandle of Oklahoma) will not have enough nutrients to survive your horse properly through the winter.

  • Supplementing them with hay that contains a higher nutrient content (+/- feed depending on age, body condition and work load) will keep your horse in shape to weather a harsh winter.

5. Every feed bag has a nutrition label and you should most definitely read it.

  • Not all food is created equal. Using a premium brand of food is more costly, but it tends to lead to better use of ingredients and higher digestibility (meaning you’re feeding less to get the same results).

  • Premium senior feeds usually contain extra vitamins, minerals and higher digestible proteins/fats which means you shouldn’t need a supplemental powder too!

Signs to watch for:

The two most common signs we see are horses dropping feed (early) and weight loss (later). We can also see things like horses having undigested pieces of feed in their feces that were not properly mashed during the eating process or packing hay into the cheek pouches causing puffy cheeks.



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