Research on Equine Peripheral Caries

Recommending that clients change their horse's diet from oaten hay to a lower WSC hay might be useful as part of long-term management of equine peripheral caries.

Peripheral dental caries is defined as macroscopic destruction of the calcified dental tissues. This issue can cause dental pathology and pain. Photos.com

A recently published article titled, “Retrospective case review investigating the effect of replacing oaten hay with a non‐cereal hay on equine peripheral caries in 42 cases.” Peripheral dental caries is defined as macroscopic destruction of the calcified dental tissues. This issue can cause dental pathology and pain. This study was authored by Kirsten Jackson, Erin Kelty and Marc Tennant, who are all based in Western Australia.

Equine peripheral caries can cause significant morbidity and can have considerable welfare implications. Recent research suggests that diets with high water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) content are associated with high risk of peripheral caries.

This retrospective study aimed to investigate whether the peripheral caries process can be halted if oaten hay is removed from the diet and replaced with a non-cereal hay, which is typically lower in water soluble carbohydrate (WSC). 

Forty-two horses with peripheral caries were switched from oaten hay to a non-cereal hay or straw (meadow hay, Rhodes hay, lucerne hay or barley straw). Photographs were taken at the time and again at subsequent visits. The photographs were anonymized, randomized and scored by six equine veterinary dentists using the Jackson et al. ‘Peripheral Caries Grading System’ grading scale.

At follow-up, 69% of cases were marked as inactive, compared with 47.6% of cases at baseline. Significantly lower grades of peripheral caries were observed in the gingival, middle and occlusive third of the molars at follow-up compared with baseline. Significant improvements were not observed in the premolars.

Bottom line: Recommending that clients change their horse’s diet from oaten hay to a lower WSC hay might be useful as part of long-term management of equine peripheral caries.

You can access this article from the BEVA online library from Wiley.

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