What kissing your horse can reveal

Giving your horse a quick kiss on the muzzle can reveal important information about his health.

As you finish brushing your horse’s face, take a moment to give him a quick kiss on the nose. In addition to expressing your affection, this gesture also serves the practical purpose of enabling you to sniff his breath.

A kiss on your horse’s nostrils allows you to get a good sniff of his breath, an important indicator of dental health.

A normal horse’s breath will have no detectable odor, aside from a whiff of sweet feed or maybe wild onions if he’s recently grazed in spring pasture. Any unpleasant odor is reason for concern. Dental and sinus infections have a distinct “rotting” smell, as do some advanced tumors.

If you smell anything foul near your horse’s nostrils, call your veterinarian. A complete dental exam and, possibly, an endoscopic investigation, will likely uncover the source of the problem.

Note: Limit your muzzle-kissing to your own horse, or one a day. Don’t go down the barn aisle kissing horses or you could end up spreading infectious diseases like equine influenza.

This article first appeared in EQUUS (Volume #483)

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