Many horses have very small, vestigial teeth known as wolf teeth. They are very rudimentary teeth not even resembling any of the other molars about the size of a human’s baby tooth that are found just in front of the first big cheek tooth. Many veterinarians and equine dentists when they find these teeth remove them based on customary practice. However it may not be absolutely necessary to have these teeth removed. Looking at the wolf teeth and seeing how small they are, and when in their proper position, they should not interfere with the bit, it is hard to see how they can cause problems and should not need to be removed. However there are a few times when it is necessary to have them removed.
A few reasons to have them removed are when the wolf teeth are sharp causing pain on the cheeks when pressure is put on the bit. When the wolf teeth are displaced forward away from the first cheek tooth or they are so large causing them to be in the way of the bit. Some wolf teeth do become loose or diseased which may cause pain. If the wolf teeth are not causing any of these problems then it may not be necessary to have to have them removed.
To have them removed it is imperative to have a qualified equine dentist or veterinarian remove them. Although it is usually a simple procedure there are some complications that can arise especially in the process of removing them. The palatine artery is nearby and a slip can create a very messy problem with very severe bleeding, using the proper tools in the hands of an experienced person can prevent this mishap.
So if a horse has wolf teeth it does not automatically mean they need to be removed. They will need to be removed if they are positioned too far forward or in the lower jaw instead of the upper jaw interfering with the bit. If they are so large that they interfere with the bit or if they move or damaged in some other way they should be removed by a qualified professional. Otherwise it just is not necessary to remove them.
I read an interesting article from my friend and fellow veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker on her blog/website – Mercola Healthy Pets – This One Procedure Could Reduce Your Pet’s Lifespan by Over 30% The article is based on a study done by the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation in which David Waters, DVM and others discovered that female Rottweilers that kept their ovaries for at least 6 years were 4 times more likely to have exceptional longevity.
After reading this article I am not ready to jump ship and say that I am not going to spay or neuter anymore. I agree with Dr. Becker in that each case is an individual situation and that there is no specific age right for all dogs. I believe owners should be informed of all the pros and cons of the procedure and make the decision based on all the information. One thing that I will say is that dogs should be older not younger to have the procedure done. The hormones are NEEDED for growth plate closure, which means most dogs will be over a year of age, except for toy breeds, and giant breeds may be closer to 2 years of age before neutering/spaying.
I also believe that certain situations were left out in the study as well. Now I have not read the study (yet), but there are some things that need to be noted when believing that not spaying or neutering increases the lifespan of the dog. I can not argue the fact and the common sense behind that a dog needs hormones, just as humans do, to have a properly functioning body and taking away the hormones can cause health issues. Leaving them in also causes health issues such as some cancers, some hormonal diseases, prostate issues and pyometras. So it is not the health issues that I can argue with, since there are advantages and disadvantages to both sides, but rather the social issues in today’s society that dogs have to live. The life span of an un-altered male or female can and does decrease with an increase in accidents from the desire to breed, such as being hit by a car in search of a mate. Un-altered dogs are much more likely to find ways to escape and get out. The desire to breed is very strong and for the average owner it is not possible to train them to not listen to that instinct. Multi-dog households will have an increase in fighting between unaltered animals. Male dogs as with most males of all the animal kingdom have much more aggressive attitudes and tend to have behavior problems associated with this, such as aggressive dominance and a more willingness to fight both other dogs and humans. Even if you did vasectomies and tubal ligation these behavior/social issues will still exist.
Another major decrease in life is of the unwanted puppies that are euthanized due to unwanted pregnancies due to accidental breedings. Even the most responsible, conscientious dog owner can have an accident happen and then it will affect the lives of not only their own dog but to the average of 6 other puppies that can be born of that accident.
So I am not in complete believe that not spaying or neutering will increase a dogs life because in many instances especially in today’s society it will lead to a decrease in life span. However it does warrant more investigation and it definitely is an individual thing for most owners and their pet.
Other articles related to Spay/Neutering
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It is Pet Dental Health Month, February is Dental Health Month for Dogs (Cats too). The importance of keeping your dog’s teeth clean is more than just having pearly whites. It actually has a major impact on the dog’s health.
If plaque is allowed to build up on the dogs teeth it can cause a variety of other health issues. Of course the dog can have pain from bad teeth and lose the teeth, have tooth abscesses, gingivitis, periodontitis, and even bone infection but there are greater dangers. The plaque is composed of bacteria – those bacteria can get into the bloodstream via mucus membranes (the gums) especially when they are inflammed and bleeding.
The bacteria then seeks out other areas in which it can attach and form plaque such as in the liver, kidneys, and on the heart valves. Dental disease is one of the major causes of kidney disease. If plaques form on heart valves then heart disease can occur. So as you can see it is vital to have clean teeth in your dog.
Having a dental check up once a year to once every 6 months in older dogs is vital in keeping your dog’s teeth healthy. Other things you can do to keep your dog’s teeth healthy include brushing your dogs teeth everyday (once a week at a bare minimum), chew toys help, and smoked bones can help as well. The one problem with bones is that they can cause another dental issue – they can break teeth. A comment about rawhides – rawhides have a safety issue with them – do not let your dog chew them till they are soft and let them swallow them. A rawhide should be a plain white with a large twist given to a dog for a maximum of 10 minutes to prevent it from becoming too soft. Do not give the flat rawhides. Ideally the bone shaped rawhides that are as long as the dogs shoulders are wide given for 5 to 10 minutes each day, then taken away to allow to dry out and then can be given again the next day.
Some vets are promoting dental health month by giving discounts on dental services, so check with your vet today about having your dog’s mouth and teeth examined. It will helpo keep your dog healthy.
Other articles for Dental Health month –
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