Eye & Dental Care for Horses
It is quite common for horses to contract an eye disorder, which can range from painful and severe to mild.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, clinical signs of which include redness and discharge. Common causes of conjunctivitis include dust, draft or sand, but is (usually) easily treated with eye cream.
Damage of a horse's cornea can occur quite easily as a result of a trauma, such as a branch that hits the eye. In cases of corneal damage as a result of trauma, it is common for fluid to build up in the cornea causing a corneal oedema or for the eyelid to be damaged as well. A corneal oedema is very painful and is usually tied to discharge. Cornea injuries are usually treated with eye cream, although, in extreme cases, a veterinarian may choose to stitch the cornea.
Uveitis, also known as "moon blindness", is a very painful and common eye disorder in horses. It starts with an inflammation of the uveal tract, which is inside the eyeball. The cause of uveitis cannot be stated with absolute certainty, although it is most likely that bacteria and the immune system play an important part. Uveitis can cause continuous damage to the eye, as recurrence is practically unavoidable, and can eventually cause blindness. Treatment ranges from the use of eye cream to surgical removal of the entire eye.
Horse teeth are the first aspect of the digestive system that form the foundation for proper absorption of food. For this reason, any type of dental problem could seriously affect a horse's overall health. It is advisable to regularly, at least once a year, have your horse's teeth checked by a professional.
In horses it is quite common for "hooks" to develop on their molars. Hooks are sharp edges that occur as a result of misalignment of molars, where the wearing of the molars is uneven. Hooks can be painful, damage oral mucosa and cause chewing difficulties. You might notice a lump of chewed food, also known as a "bolus", in your horse's stable, trough or feeding bucket. This could indicate the presence of molar hooks, as the horse has attempted to eat the food but it has fallen out of their mouth. Removal of hooks should be done by your veterinarian or equine dental technician.
Retained Dental Cap
Deciduous teeth (baby teeth) in foals might not shed properly and sit on top of the new permanent teeth, these are called caps. Retained dental caps should be removed so that the horse can chew normally.
Wolf teeth are small, vestigial premolars that can be clearly visible or hidden beneath the gum, also known as blind wolf teeth. It is quite common for horses to have wolf teeth, although not all horses do and their presence might not affect the horse at all. In some cases, however, the use of a bit seat could become painful. As wolf teeth are vestigial, they no longer have any function, and can, therefore, be removed by your veterinarian or equine dental technician.