SubscribeGift a Sub
Enable cache 100
Horse Dental Care

Recognizing the Connection Between Dental Pain and Horse Behavior Problems

Photo by Holly Caccamise

Could dental pain be the culprit for your horse’s behavioral problems? A recent study done by researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland that was published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science established a link between common horse behavior problems and dental pain caused by abscessed cheek teeth. Periapical infections (those around the apex of the tooth root) or abscessed cheek teeth are common in horses and will usually induce pain that is displayed in your horse’s behavior. According to the research, half of the cases of periapical infections were diagnosed during routine dental examinations, indicating that horse owners were unaware of the association between undesirable behavioral patterns of their horses and dental pain.

Behavior Problems Linked to Tooth Pain



Common behavioral signs associated with cheek teeth abscesses fall into three main categories. Some signs include:

Eating and Drinking:



◆ Eating slowly or taking frequent pauses while eating hay
◆ Turning the head while eating or dropping hay or grain from his mouth
◆ Dipping hay in water or avoiding drinking cold water

Bit-Related:

◆ Evading the bit
◆ Headshaking, lolling tongue or opening his mouth when ridden and/or driven with a bit
◆ Rein contact worse on one side of the mouth
◆ Resistance to bridling

General:

◆ Withdrawn, intense stare, aggressive behavior, or self-harm to his head
◆ Avoiding social interaction with other horses and people
◆ Bad-smelling breath
◆ Poor performance, such as a decline in athletic ability

Zoetis is committed to educating horse owners about the importance of annual dental examinations and care by an equine veterinarian. Behavioral signs caused by dental abnormalities are crucial to identify. Recognizing these potential behavior changes in your horse that may be caused by dental pain can help with earlier diagnosis, treatment and improved health and wellness for your horse.

If your horse is expressing any of these behavioral signs, work with your equine veterinarian to conduct an oral and dental examination. Annual oral and dental examinations are a recommended baseline of care for your horse. Depending on your horse’s age, level of performance and overall condition of the teeth, additional examinations throughout the year may be needed.

For more information, visit www.zoetisus.com.

Horse Illustrated

Horse Illustrated is the magazine for people who are passionate about horses. Each issue offers advice on horse health and care, plus user-friendly training tips for both English and western riders and engaging lifestyle features for horse lovers.

Recent Posts

Adults Who Ride Ponies

There’s more to love when it comes to riding less, at least for these four adults who ride ponies. When…

15 hours ago

New Horses Stamps Burst Out of the Gate At 164th Pony Express Re-Ride

ST JOSEPH, MO — On June 17, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated its new Horses stamps at today’s kickoff for the…

1 day ago

ASPCA Right Horse Adoptable Horse of the Week: What a Night

Welcome to Horse Illustrated’s weekly installment of the Right Horse Adoptable Horse of the Week, offered in partnership with the…

2 days ago

Mongolia Trek on Horseback for Charity

Seventeen intrepid riders from five foreign countries gathered in Ulaanbataar for the ultimate horse riding trek: 3,600 kilometers (just over…

3 days ago

Latest News from the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Check out Horse Illustrated's latest updates from the 2024 Paris Olympics on equestrian sport for the three disciplines of dressage,…

3 days ago

How to Show in Halter Classes

If you’d like to truly "show off” your horse at a horse show, you can’t do much better than to…

4 days ago