Ask the Vet – Is removing wolf teeth in horses necessary?
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Ask the Vet – Is removing wolf teeth in horses necessary?

October 27, 2019


SARAH: “Is removing
wolf teeth necessary? When should it be done?” DR LYDIA GRAY: I was going
to bring a prop for this. I was going to bring
Newman’s wolf teeth, when he had them taken out as a baby. SARAH: Oh, Newman. Do you have them on a necklace? DR LYDIA GRAY: No, no, I do not. SARAH: Well, my husband
will be disappointed to hear this about you. DR LYDIA GRAY: So wolf teeth
are sort of a vestigial tooth. It means they don’t serve
a purpose or use anymore. And they sit right in front
of the big cheek teeth, or the– they’re
actually premolars. And they can be of
a variety of sizes. Sometimes, they don’t even
erupt or come out of the gum. Sometimes, they’re
little bitty teeny-tiny. Sometimes they’re big. They can be right up against
that first cheek tooth, or they can be a little
bit in front of it. So depending on
where they are– now, the reason we took
them out of Newman is he’s got kind of a
small but fleshy mouth. SARAH: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: And so his
lips, his tongue, his gums, everything is just
sort of big and full. And even before we put the
first bit his mouth and bridle in his face, there
was tissue pushing on his rather sharp wolf teeth. And you could tell it was
already bothering him. And we said, you know what, why? We know this is going
to be a problem. Let’s take these out before
he gets a bad habit of head tossing or aborting
avoiding the bit or not going on the
contact or something. So that’s why a lot
of people do it– because they want to
avoid a horse reacting in a painful manner and then
causing riding or performance problems. A lot of racehorses do this. But it’s not something
that is routinely done, like, I have to do it. SARAH: It’s not
across-the-board necessary. DR LYDIA GRAY: It is not. It is something that you
discuss with your veterinarian and dentist, if they’re
different people. And if you do it,
a lot of times– like, I did it in practice
when I was castrating a colt at, like, five
and six months of age, because they were already
under general anesthesia, and they were down, and
I could access them, and it wasn’t painful. But some people wait
till they are a problem. So the horses are
a little older. But it’s on an individual basis. SARAH: Ok.

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  1. I have a rescued shire horse who never developed properly as he was neglected in a field and bullied up to the age of 5. He is now age 12 and is still thin compared to other horses (you can see his ribs in the winter). The vets says he is healthy and gets enough feed when they visit. Does anyone have any tips to help him build up some muscle and put on some weight?

  2. Wolf teeth are so simple to remove that there doesn't need to be so much debate. If the horse is young and they're going to wear a bit, pull the wolf teeth. Here is a video showing how simple they are to remove.
    https://youtu.be/_F2qAn3SESc

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