Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Floating of Teeth + Other Fun Vet Stuff

It is unarguable that one of the worst parts of owning a horse is how expensive their vet bills can be. At the same time, I strongly feel that if you own a horse you have to be proactive and on-top-of their health needs. So, when I bought Casey, one of the first things that I did was get a vet appointment for her. I knew that she badly needed to get her teeth floated (since they hadn't been done in two years) and that she also needed to get her vaccines.
I got Casey vaccinated for 3 Way + West Nile and Flu Rino. My trainer and vet both recommended doing just those vaccines. If I were planning on showing Casey this year than I would probably have gotten a few other vaccinations, but she won't be leaving the property and so the odds of her being exposed to other viruses are lowered.
The vet that my barn uses is the nicest man ever and so when he was floating Casey's teeth he showed me everything and explained what he was doing and allowed me to take photos. I've seen teeth floating before and I understood the basic concept of it, but I will explain it to you as well as I know I have some non-horsey-experienced readers. Basically, horses' teeth never stop growing and the grinding motion that they use to eat grass and hay does grind their teeth down, but not necessarily evenly or enough. That's why you have to hire a vet to "float," or grind down, their teeth evenly. If you don't have their teeth floated then their teeth will grow out unevenly which can make it hard for them to eat and sharp ridges can be formed which obviously hurt the horse. You are supposed to get your horse's teeth floated every year. Some horses, like Casey, can do it every other year (although now that she's mine, they will get done every year).
If I hadn't seen this process before and I didn't understand what the vet was doing then watching this would probably have been pretty traumatic. First, they gave Casey a shot of local anesthetic. It took probably 3 minutes for it to kick in and when it did it hit Casey hard. She started swaying, her eyes got droopy, and I swear she almost fell over on the vet tech a couple of times. Then they put an equine dental speculum into Casey's mouth to hold it open and gave her mouth a rinse.
Equine dental speculum
They propped Casey's head up on a stand and the vet tech held her head to keep her still. The vet then took out the electric float (which looks like an electric drill but with a long metal pole attached - the file is at the end of the pole) and ground her teeth down.
Floating teeth
Scary-looking electric float
After using the electric float, the vet checked her teeth and used a manual float to finish the job. The vet checked her teeth with his hand to make sure that there weren't any uneven or sharp spots, gave her mouth a rinse, and then she was done. The whole process took probably 20 minutes as Casey apparently had decent teeth to begin with. Then Casey drunkenly walked back to her stall and spent the rest of the day just hanging out with Wings and eating (the anesthetic wore off after about 40 minutes).
More floating
Almost done
After the vet treated Casey, he had to create an account for me with his clinic and he also went over Casey's dental chart with me. Basically, this chart shows what Casey's teeth looked like before the floating. She has a slight overbite and so her bottom, front-most molars had been ground down a bit too much and the bottom, back-most molars were growing too long. She didn't have too many dips and ridges (even though it's been two years since her teeth were floated) which means that she is chewing pretty evenly. The vet said that she has a really great bite and good teeth, which means that she is likely to have fewer dental issues and she will likely keep her teeth for longer as she ages. This was great news!
The total cost of everything was around $270. This is what I expected it to be so it wasn't a surprise. I got to save some money, because if a certain number of horses are being treated in one trip than the vet doesn't charge for the barn visit just for the work. Casey will need to get a vaccine booster in 6 months (for Flu Rino) and so that will probably cost between $50-100 depending on if I have to pay for the barn visit, so that means the the bare minimum of vet care that she will need in a year will cost around $350. Now hopefully we just don't have an medical emergencies!
Very drugged horsie post-vet
Do you like to be there when your horse's teeth are floated? Have you ever seen an equine dental chart before? Because I had not and how cool!

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