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Regular dental care is important to the development of healthy horses. A healthy mouth can help avoid the incidence of digestive problems such as colic, weight loss and poor feed utilization. A lot of people assume the stomach is the beginning of the digestive tract, but really it is the mouth/teeth. Without sound dentition the rest of the digestive tract is less efficient. Modern day management of horses has had significant effects on equine dental health. Horses grazing pasture are able to use their teeth and jaws. The natural action of using the incisors to tear or cut the grass and the molars to grind it allows the jaws to be used with a full range of motion, thereby providing an advantage over stabled horses. Stabled horses have little natural wear of the incisors because of a lack of availability to tear or crop grass. As a result these teeth can grow too long and decrease the contact between the molars of the lower and upper jaws. Grinding becomes less efficient resulting in the development of hooks (sharp enamel points), resulting in less efficient digestion and feed utilization. It is of critical importance that horses undergo regular dental work in order to maintain a healthy mouth. In order to understand the importance of dental work we must first understand the basics of the equine mouth and the mechanisms of biting and chewing.
Dropping feed while chewing, nasal discharge, foul-smelling breath, weight loss and facial swellings might all be indications of dental disease. While the symptoms of dental diseases are often obvious, the actual cause of these symptoms requires a careful and detailed examination. For this reason, horses should have an oral exam once a year. It is important to do a complete oral exam and not just look at the teeth as other disease processes may be present in the horse's mouth. For horses with dental problems that can no longer chew their hard feed or hay, HYGAIN provides various feeds that can be wet and fed out in a mash, such as HYGAIN TRU CARE® an extruded senior feed and HYGAIN MICRBEET® and HYGAIN® FIBRESSENTIAL® two highly digestible fibre products.
Different feeding regimes may also influence dental characteristics. Early studies showed that differing types of food changed the degree of lateral movement of the cheek teeth during chewing. Horses fed concentrates had an increased vertical crushing component in their chewing cycle, with decreased lateral motion when compared to horses fed hay. Replacing oats with sugar beet pulp (HYGAIN MICRBEET®) increased the ‘expected’ normal dental attrition. Horses fed hay also spend longer chewing compared with horses fed a high concentrate/cereal diet. Results from several studies support the theory that a diet high in roughage consumed by non-domesticated horses promotes dental health through a greater range of jaw motion and a slower chewing rate. However, the calorie requirements of high performance horses are more easily met by feeding more energy-dense concentrate feeds at the expense of fibrous foods. Under these circumstances, it may be necessary to perform more regular dental examinations in order to avoid dental irregularities.
Library | 08.08.23
Library | 01.03.22
Library | 23.02.22