Does your horse’s dentist need a DVM degree?
When your horse has a medical issue, most people think nothing of a quick call to their veterinarian. When they need to have their horse’s teeth looked at though, it becomes less clear who to reach out to.
In some areas, there is a wealth of veterinarians who specialize in equine practice. There are also a decent number who focus solely on equine dentistry. In other places though, horse owners may have fewer options for people to care for equine teeth.
In early days of equestrianism, teeth were dealt with by the local farrier, in part because they had a range of rasps and files on hand. In the 18th and 19th centuries, blacksmiths were expected to have some basic medical knowledge beyond the foot. They were the source of various home remedies and were asked to diagnose lamenesses that went beyond hooves.
In the modern era, there is a division between the practice of veterinary medicine and farriery in terms of the required education and licensure. Veterinarians must meet certain educational requirements and be in good standing with the state veterinary licensing board; farriers may go through an optional certification process or may apprentice with an existing expert, but they don’t have to pass a state licensing test.
Even as the practices of farriers and equine veterinarians have diverged, there are still farriers who will offer to float horses’ teeth, or people who advertise themselves as equine dentists but who aren’t veterinarians.
Modern education and knowledge
Some equine dentists or equine dental technicians have gone through an education or certification course to validate their skills.
Many who have used a layperson for a teeth float have been pretty happy with the results, but I prefer to leave that work to a veterinarian. Here are a few reasons why:
If the person discovers a problem, like a chipped or broken tooth, or a pocket of infection, they need to be qualified to deal with that, too.
Ultimately, it’s each horse owner’s choice to have work done on their animal’s mouths. I pay very slightly more to have a veterinarian do my horses’ dental exams, but for me, the extra peace of mind is worth it.
For more information
No, you should NOT float teeth yourself. https://www.riversidehorsefarm.com/horse-teeth-floating/