Careful observation is always a good thing!

A few folks grooming and walking Cameron have noticed him doing some funny things with his face. He would push his lips at the gate with his blanket on it and even at their hand when they were near his face. He would also lay all his head weight in their hands. Being the careful observers that they are, this was reported to the staff for further investigation.

A little back story, last fall during Cameron’s dental, Dr. Lewis detected the early signs of EOTRH. At the time he appeared to have a very mild start of the disease and no painful symptoms. We were told to keep an eye on it and report any painful behavior, sores or advancing of the tooth lesions. 

What is EOTRH you ask? “Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis, also known as EOTRH, is a syndrome in horses that results in resorptive lesions of the incisors and sometimes canine teeth. It is usually gradual in onset, though often isn’t diagnosed until quite extensive lesions are present.” From article: EOTRH Syndrome | Midwest Veterinary Dental Services (

Cameron will continue to have annual dental checks (due in September) which may not include much of a dental float due to his “worn out” teeth. He has some teeth missing and a significant wave in his teeth. Unfortunately, at his advanced age nothing can be done to correct the wave because if we take too much tooth away it will kill the entire tooth. If the EOTRH advances to a painful stage, shows signs of pain or discomfort, we may be able to put him on anti-inflammatory medication or consider removal of the painful teeth. However, since he is on daily steroids from his muscle loss in his rectum, we would be very careful with adding any other medications and only do this with our veterinarian’s approval. Since he is on a low dose of daily steroids we are monitoring his kidney and liver functions. Just last week we rechecked these levels and did an ATCH test to make sure he is not showing any signs of Cushing’s. Thankfully all is in good order and he is currently okay to continue on his medication treatment.

We sent current photos of his teeth and gum condition to Dr. Lewis to compare them to last fall’s photo. They look similar and without any significant irritation or sores.

Given what the staff observed we do not think his behavior is a painful symptom of the EOTRH. These “funny behaviors” are seen when he is being groomed or having his Masterson’s massage treatments. He appears to be exhibiting these behaviors in response to feeling good. It may be a form of reciprocal grooming, where horses mimic the grooming they would give to other horses if they were getting whither or neck itches. Also, some horses like the upper gums pushed on and rubbed.

After looking at the photos and talking with us, Dr. Lewis agreed: “rubbing his teeth on things in response to stimulation like massage or grooming, I’m inclined to agree with you that it’s just him saying it feels good. The signs of dental pain we see with EOTRH tend to be things like not wanting to bite hard horse treats/carrots or more generalized signs of pain like withdrawn, quiet and less social.” Luckily, Cameron is VERY social and appears to be living his BEST life since coming into SAFE.

We are all very grateful for the careful observations and communication from volunteers at SAFE. Small things like this can help put together a full picture of health for our horses, help us catch issues early and we appreciate it! Cameron is a sweet goober with many adoring fans here at SAFE. He gets tons of love and doting over him which we all agree he deserves! Thank you all for supporting horses like Cameron through your donations and sharing SAFE with your friends.