Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Teeth Grinding (in Adult)

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If you are convinced this is a sign of colic (abdominal pain).
  • If you notice other signs of abdominal pain (colic).
  • If you notice other signs of abdominal pain (colic).
  • If you feel the problem is severe or has come on suddenly.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If the behavior continues but the horse has good appetite, attitude and shows no other signs of colic.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If you want to rule out any physical issue being a factor in the behavior.
  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

In most cases, teeth grinding (bruxism) is a sign of abdominal pain (colic), or pain in the mouth, throat, esophagus or elsewhere. There are certain neurologic conditions in which this sign is common as well.

Teeth grinding may be a stall vice caused by anxiety, and is commonly found in stall-confined horses that are isolated from others. In some cases, it can be a sign of aggression.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their attitude and appetite. Look for other signs of colic. Take some time to notice when this behavior occurs – after feeding, while being ridden? This is important information that may help your vet in determining the underlying cause of this behavior.

If your horse appears healthy otherwise, consider making management changes to reduce stress and eliminate this behavior. Provide an environment that engages your horse more, such as more turnout or stimulation from other horses. Horses do better psychologically and physically when they are kept in view of others and turned out when possible.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet may perform a complete physical examination and history and use diagnostics to rule out a painful abdominal condition. If this turns out to be strictly a behavioral issue, they may have management suggestions for reducing it.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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