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QUESTION:

My husband and I are planning on getting a couple of horses and saw where dental work is part of the cost of "care" for horses. We were wondering why dental work (floatation) is required on horses. Also can you please tell me what goes on in the process and how often should it be done?

- S. G.

ANSWER:

The old saying, "as the head goes, so goes the horse," applies to more than steering the critter. The mouth is the starting point for much of a horse's health -- whether it's the digestion of food or the entry point for infection. The condition of a horse's teeth determines how well the feed is ground up before it goes to the digestive system, and thus how well the horse is able to use that feed. In addition, jagged teeth can cause a sore mouth, which may result in head pulling, rearing, and other behavior problems. An abscessed tooth may also result in a multitude of problems.

Floating -- filing off the rough edges of a horse's teeth -- is generally done on an "as needed" basis because horses vary in the way their teeth wear down, but you should continually monitor your horses for signs or irregular wear or infection. Any indication of weight loss or "sloppy" eating of grain should alert you to the possibility that the teeth need to be floated. How often should the teeth be floated? Some horses seem to need it every year or two, while others may go five or six years between floatings. At the least, any time your vet makes a call, it's a good opportunity to ask for a quick dental exam.

I hope this helps.

Happy Horse Ownership!

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