Cool fall weather is approaching, and that gets us thinking about winter preparation and making sure our horses are in excellent health before the stressful, cold temperatures arrive. Fall is a good time to address any concerns and schedule procedures that might require your horse to be sedated. The summertime heat and humidity can sometimes make heavy sedation tough on horses, which is why we prefer to avoid it unless needed for emergencies. Cooler weather is ideal for dentistry, sheath cleaning, and other surgical procedures for both you and your horse!
The importance of an annual dental exam goes for all stages of life and has been discussed previously on our blogs (see Equine Dental Series, Part 1 – What’s the Hype About Horse Teeth? and Equine Dental Series, Part 2 – What Are We Looking at In There? )
parts 1 and 2!). Most horses require a medium to heavy level of sedation to allow a thorough oral exam, accurate floating where necessary, and tooth extractions if needed. We especially like to perform dental exams on our older patients in the fall to ensure they can maintain a good body condition throughout the winter. Making sure their mouths are as comfortable as possible, and their diet is fine-tuned for the current condition of their teeth is essential for proper nutrient absorption and staying warm. An appropriate feeding program and a happy mouth also save money by reducing hay and other feed waste!
Another important task to accomplish while horses are sedated for dentistry is the cleaning and evaluating external reproductive structures. Gelding and stallion owners might know this procedure as “sheath cleaning”, but mares have important reproductive structures that require some attention, too! Though some horses may cooperate with their owners to routinely complete these tasks, it’s a good idea for your veterinarian to take a close look at least once a year during a sedated exam. This facilitates the safe removal of excessive smegma and a chance to identify abnormalities such as infection, cancer, and other skin irritations or growths. This also provides the opportunity to then discuss each individual horse’s particular need for cleaning and evaluation in the future.
Call EquidDoc today at 508-885-4205, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to schedule your fall “teeth & sheath” AND winter preparation appointment!