Product Navigation

Dental losses can severely impact a horse’s ability to graze and chew food properly. Improperly chewed food can increase the risk for digestive upset. In senior horses, the most common cause of tooth loss is periodontal disease. Due to their hypsodont (meaning high crowned teeth that continue to erupt) characteristics, horses are at risk to simply just run out of teeth as they get older. The natural chewing process also wears teeth down over time. The older they get, the more likely it is that their teeth will be either gone completely or too smooth to provide useful chewing power. Here are some feeding management considerations for toothless horses and ponies. 

  1. Consider the type and amount of missing teeth. Incisors are important for grazing pasture, although horses without incisors still have some ability to grasp grasses of longer lengths.  Molars grind and break down feeds. Quidding, or dropping of feed in a semi-chewed state, is usually a result of missing molars (see photo of quids).  
    Quids
  2. Provide 1.5% - 2.5% of body weight in forage per day. For toothless horses, this requires replacing dried long-stemmed hay with an alternative fiber source. Here are some options:
    1. Provide pasture turnout if laminitis is not a concern. Pasture does not require as much chewing as hay and can serve as a high quality source of nutrients;
    2. Provide alternative fiber sources such as chopped hay, hay cubes or pellets, or beet pulp;
    3. Feed a designated complete feed that can be fed with or without hay. These can either serve as a replacement for just the forage portion of the diet or as the entire diet.   
  3. Feed a processed feed, either pelleted or extruded, as these are easier to chew and digest for toothless equines. Whole grains and textured feeds are not always suitable for those with missing teeth.  
  4. Feed in small, frequent meals to mimic the horse or pony’s natural grazing behavior, no more than 0.5% of body weight per meal.  
  5. Soak all grain and alternative fiber sources prior to feeding to help prevent choke. This also helps toothless horses and ponies drop less feed during mealtime. 
  6. Continue to provide free choice access to pasture or hay if choke is not a concern as this encourages normal grazing behavior and helps to keep the gut healthy.  

Recommended Diets for Toothless Horses and Ponies

Complete Feeds

Senior Pelleted

  • Pelleted feed type
  • 22 lbs per day minimum divided into 4+ meals
  • Free choice of forage if choking is not an issue

Wrangler Pelleted

  • Pelleted feed type
  • 22 lbs per day minimum divided into 4+ meals
  • Free choice of forage if choking is not an issue

Feeds to be Fed with an Alternative Fiber Source

EQ8™ Senior

  • Multi-textured feed type (pelleted and extruded)
  • 4 lbs per day minimum divided into 2+ meals
  • Supplement 1.5-2.5% of body weight in alternative fiber source.
    • Senior Pelleted or Wranger can be used as an alternative source of fiber.
  • Free choice of forage if choking is not an issue