Prevent colic in your Pets - tomaswells38's Blog

Wiley Norris Howard Singleton

Casey Ortiz Rodrigo Woodard

Prevent colic in your Pets


Because the horse chews in a complicated four part cycle not simply side to side or up and down theses points then act on the cheeks and tongue of the horse like a saw.

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In order to digest their feed horses must first pick it up (prehension, done by the lips and front teeth) and chew it (mastication, done by the back teeth). Any problem with either of these steps affects the efficiency of the entire process. To use an analogy cars in a queue can only go as fast as the slowest moving car.

But speed is not the only issue here in order for proper digestion to occur feed must be reduced to a certain size before reaching the gut, food that is not reduced enough will not be properly digested and will be passed out in to the paddock.

Figure 1 Long stems in Faeces due to poor digestion

The condition of the cheek teeth of a horse determines this size. The reduction in absorption of feed can be as much as thirty percent.

Figure 2 Horse spilling feed due to dental disease

So for this reason alone it is vitally important that all horses receive regular professional dental exams and treatment.

So what affects these two steps and what can be done about it?

Four things commonly affect prehension and mastication

Pain any problem in the horse's mouth that causes pain will lead them to alter the way they eat and the speed at which they eat

Trauma As you are no doubt aware horses love to hurt themselves and other horses and the mouth is no different from any other part of the body, horse's frequently injure their teeth, tongue, skull and gums.

Disease Diseases of the mouth such as gingivitis and periodontal disease are common in the horse and if untreated lead to premature loss of teeth and the potential for diseases of the vital organs such as the heart and kidneys.

Genetic disorders Several genetic disorders occur commonly in the horse, the most common being parrot mouth or an underbite if left untreated parrot mouth leads to alterations in the wear of the back teeth and thus problems with both prehension and mastication.

Entire chapters of text books have been written on each of the headings above so obviously there are a lot of details that we don't have room to cover here but I will give a brief outline of some the conditions that occur.

There are numerous sources of pain in the horse's mouth. Some of the more common ones include ulcers to the cheeks and tongue caused by sharp enamel points, incorrect use of the bit, gingivitis and periodontal disease, fractures or loose teeth, bit contact with wolf teeth, impacted teeth and lacerations to the tongue.

Figure 3 Severe cuts to cheek from the bit

There is not enough room to cover the treatment of these conditions, but what is essential is a thorough exam of the whole horse. ulcers in horses, treatment of colic in horses

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