Knight has been acting different lately. Instead of behaving like a somewhat gentlemanly gelding, he has taken on the persona of a puppy. By that I mean he has been putting everything in sight in his mouth and chewing. So last week my trainer and I trailered Knight up to the local equine hospital to get re-scoped for ulcers. As it turns out he has moderate ulcers again and early stage EOTRH. I am glad I don’t have to pronounce this tooth and gum disease out loud for you because I’m not sure I can even say it. Except for the e in equine part.
(This blog post got really long, so I’m going to make today’s entry Part I about EOTRH. I have more to share in a Part II. You can also sign up for my email list to stay in the loop.)
EOTRH Explained In a Very Quick, Non-Sciencey Manner
Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis usually happens in senior horses, but my vet said he has seen in it a 5 year old before. That poor horse would not let people get near its face because its teeth hurt so bad. The good news is there is medicine that can help alleviate the pain. And he said within a few days that 5 year old was experiencing so much relief he could touch its face, look in its mouth, etc.
The vet also said that he has looked through his notes from vet school (he graduated in the early 90s) and he didn’t find any information on EOTRH. He said it is something that has become quite common in the last 10-15 years, however. I asked if it was genetic and he said no. And as of yet there is no known cause, although he thinks it’s possible there could be a link to the use of supplements.
Knight’s EOTRH Symptoms
First off, Knight is a cribber. He’s not incessant about it and when he has been treated for ulcers, it pretty much goes away. Over the last month I’ve noticed a change in his mouthy behaviors. These listed below are all new behaviors and they are very different from the cribbing.
1. He tries to chew the halter when I put it on him. Putting on a halter seems like the easiest thing to do around a horse, but it’s been challenging because he keeps his mouth open wide almost like I could easily slide a bit in his mouth. The nose band of the halter is not wide enough to place over his open mouth and in my attempt to slide it over the nose, he will clamp down on the halter with this teeth.
2. He tries to grab the lead rope when I lead him. Our Golden Retriever will sometimes carry his own leash, but it’s not nearly as cute with a horse because obviously he won’t just “heel” next to me as I walk around the barn property.
3. He chews the crossties. We have two sets of crossties. Right now I can’t put him on the nylon set because I think he will chew right through them. So I have had to put him on the chain crossties.
4. He chews the chain crossties that have been treated with hot pepper spray to keep wraps on horses. Weird, huh.
5. He tries to chew the reins when I lead him with his bridle on. This is really unacceptable because expensive leather. (C’mon Knight!)
6. He has not been eating his hay as fast, and is more reluctant to eat from his slowfeed haynet. All the above chewing behaviors are annoying, but this one had me worried. Knight loves his alfalfa and in the last few weeks to see him having so much still left to eat when I get to the barn had me concerned due to his health history with colic and ulcers.
The World’s Fastest Diagnosis
So we pulled the trailer up to the hospital and Knight backed out. Almost immediately an assistant grabbed Knight’s lead rope and walked him over to the vet who was standing in the aisle next to the scoping equipment. He smiled and asked what brought us in, noting that he thought Knight looked great. My trainer and I relayed the information about all the chewing and that Knight has more energy these days than we’ve encountered before. He’s almost impossible to tire out.
The vet stepped away from us and lifted Knight’s upper lip and examined his front teeth for about 30 seconds. When he joined us again he started telling us about EOTRH and pulled up pictures on his phone. “His teeth aren’t as white as they could be and look different from last time.” (How could he remember Knight’s teeth from a year ago? Impressive!).
He then said that in some horses they can have a severe case of EOTRH and it won’t bother them too much and others can have a mild case and it will bother them intensely. Just as some people with receding gum lines can eat ice cream, but other people can’t because it’s too sensitive.
I authorized dental X-rays and he confirmed that Knight has the very early stages of EOTRH. The good news is that there is a medicine that can help with the sensitivity. Nothing can stop the condition. When I used the word “degenerative” he tried to stop me, I guess to be politically correct because no one wants to hear their horse has a degenerative tooth disease. My trainer and I looked at him and said we could take it–give it to us straight.
I learned that this affects the incisors and when a horse’s teeth get really bad, they can be pulled and the horse can adapt and live a fairly normal life. And that is the good news. The meds for EOTRH were ordered and I’ve already started Knight on his ulcer-fighting regimen again.
For Part II of the EOTRH drama, in which I find out not one, but two friends of mine in another state have had horses with this and what fellow horse lovers in one of my Facebook groups had to say, check back with Saddle Seeks Horse later this week. And if you’re not already signed up for my bi-weekly (that’s only 2x a month) email, you can click here to join and find out more about EOTRH, ulcers, and other fun horse-related goings-on such as giveaways and product reviews.
Thanks for reading and trotting along on this horsey journey!