Horse Cribbing and Dentistry

Aside from routine dental conditions that occur in horses, owners might encounter a behavior that is referred to as cribbing or crib biting, which can have a negative effect on the incisor teeth.
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Pet owners sometimes forget that animals need dental maintenance just like we do. It is important to stay on top of routine dentistry in order to help prevent more serious problems in the future. Aside from routine dental conditions that occur in horses, owners might encounter a behavior that is referred to as cribbing or crib biting, which can have a negative effect on the incisor teeth.

“With cribbing (or crib biting), a fixed object is grabbed with the incisor teeth and air is drawn in repetitively through the mouth by the horse, causing a characteristic grunting noise,” said Cleet Griffin, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “This behavior causes an abnormal appearance of the incisor teeth due to excessive wear.

“Usually, this behavior is associated with boredom or confinement of horses. A remedy for every cribber does not exist. Prevention can include the use of mechanical devices to prevent grasping objects, such as a muzzle. The muzzle is worn continually by the horse and limits cribbing behavior, but not eating or drinking. In my experience, these seem very humane and work well at preventing the behavior. A ‘cribbing collar’ fits very snug around the throatlatch area of the neck of the horse and discourages the horse from engulfing air. These have been utilized commonly to help prevent cribbing behavior. Other approaches that have been practiced include surgery, acupuncture, nutritional alterations, and environmental alterations to deter the behavior.”

If a horse is cribbing and owners are not aware of it, they may notice that wood has been chewed away from the feed manger or surrounding fencing. The behavior can also be very destructive to plastic water buckets and feed buckets. An annual oral exam can detect abnormal wear of the incisor teeth that results from cribbing

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