Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis – What a mouthful!

Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis (EOTRH) is a painful syndrome usually found in older patients. EOTRH is a gradual process, and is often not diagnosed until it is severe. Early signs include having difficulty biting off bits of carrot, head shyness, and decreased appetite. Eventually it can progress to swelling of the gums, loose and/or fractured teeth, irritability, and in some cases signs of infection such as bruising and discharge from the gums.

EOTRH gets its name as the roots of the incisors, and sometimes even canines, are resorbed in the disease process. In severe cases extra cement, a type of calcified tissue found in teeth normally, can be found on the surface of the tooth. Unfortunately we do not yet know why this process occurs. Therefore we do not know how to prevent it. However we do know how to diagnose and treat it. 

Diagnosis is based on radiographs (x-rays) as the bulk of the disease process, especially early on, occurs below the gum line. 

With radiographs you can see the root of the tooth begins to look moth eaten compared to the normal teeth next to it. Treatment at this state is much easier. When left untreated the root often becomes enlarged and bulbous, which makes treatment more difficult. At this point you will often see large bulbous swellings of the gums, and sometimes pinpoint bruises as small abscesses form.

Treatment for EOTRH is extraction of the affected teeth. Horses do extremely well without incisors, and can even graze without them!

EOTRH is just one of the many reasons to have a yearly dental exam by a qualified veterinarian performed on your horse. Give High Tide Veterinary Services a call today to schedule an exam!


Laser Therapy Now Available!

Dr. Lee is excited to announce the addition of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) to acupuncture treatments. LLLT works in tandem with acupuncture to decrease pain and increase tissue healing.

How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture can be used alongside pharmaceuticals and other therapies such as low level laser as part of a multi-modal pain management plan. Acupuncture works by tricking the body into thinking it was injured. The body’s own response is then initiated to decrease pain, increase healing, and normalise the body. The needles have effects locally, segmentally along the spinal cord, and systemically. It is important that the animal is relaxed and comfortable during treatment for the best response. Most animals respond very well to acupuncture, and some may even fall asleep during treatment. The treatments will build upon the previous one until a steady state is reached. For this reason it is recommended to try 3-4 treatments weekly to determine if the pet will benefit from acupuncture. In acute cases this may be all the treatment the animal needs, and in chronic cases acupuncture may become part of a maintenance regimen. In those cases the frequency is weaned down to the lowest frequency possible. There is a small percentage of pets that do not respond to acupuncture or will not tolerate treatment. Other treatments such as low level laser therapy can be useful in these situations.

What is Low Level Laser Therapy?

Like Acupuncture, Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) encourages the body to use its own mechanisms to promote healing and decrease pain. Similar to how a plant absorbs sunlight for photosynthesis, animal cells can absorb the energy from LLLT. By the activation of multiple biochemical pathways, the energy is used to promote tissue repair, increase blood flow, decrease inflammation, and decrease pain. The treatment is safe and well tolerated. For these reasons LLLT can be used in numerous cases. Like acupuncture, LLLT builds upon previous treatments to reach an effective dose. It can be used in acute cases such as post operative pain relief and wound healing, and chronic cases such as osteoarthritis.

Uses for Acupuncture/LLLT

Musculoskeletal conditions:

Myofascial pain (trigger points)


Post-Op analgesia/wound healing

Soft Tissue Injuries (e.g. ACL tears, medial shoulder instability, tendon injuries)



Peripheral neuropathies


Pain/inflammation from otitis externa

Lick granulomas/hot spots



Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Ileus and other motility disorders

Pain from GI Disease (e.g. pancreatitis, gastric ulcers)


This list is just a small example of the uses for Acupuncture/LLLT. High Tide Veterinary Services is always happy to discuss whether Acupuncture/LLLT is a good option for your pet, please contact us for more information!

Photo Credit Jane Isquith

Brody’s Acupuncture Journey

Brody is a 10 year old Beagle Mutt. When he was 6 he started showing signs of a hindlimb lameness. NSAIDs (a common type of pain medication) and rest did not improve his symptoms. After many diagnostics and specialist consults, he was determined to have myofascial (muscle) pain in his back. He started with weekly acupuncture sessions, and the results were immediate. Brody was back to his normal active self! His treatments are now down to an as needed basis, and he is enjoying his pain free life.

What is Acupuncture all about?

Acupuncture has been used to treat illnesses for thousands of years. For a long time we did not know exactly how this treatment worked, just that it brought relief to patients. With modern medicine and research techniques, research has finally been able to shed light on how this treatment works.

The body is an extremely complicated system of nerves, muscles, blood vessels, etc. Acupuncture helps the body in multiple ways to enhance healing, decrease pain, and improve mobility. The needles have an affect on the area around the needle, the nerves, the spinal cord, the brain, and the whole body. To simplify, acupuncture tricks the body into thinking an injury has occurred where the needle was placed, and initiates the bodies’ response to heal the injury and relieve pain.

Acupuncture is best at treating myofascial, or muscle, pain. Myofascial pain is often caused by trigger points, or “knots”, in the muscle. In humans these trigger points are common in the shoulder area where we tend to hold stress, but can be found in any muscle. In animals these trigger points can be caused by certain activities, conformation, and previous injuries. Acupuncture can help to heal these trigger points and improve comfort and mobility.

Acupuncture is also known to have affects on the gastrointestinal system, immune system, urogenital system, and other body systems. Common veterinary applications include colic in horses, gastrointestinal stasis in rabbits, non-healing wounds, etc. High Tide Veterinary Services is always happy to discuss whether acupuncture is the right choice for your pet.

Individuals fall on a spectrum of responsiveness to acupuncture, ranging from no response to excellent responders. Excellent responders will often become relaxed (sometimes even fall asleep!) during the treatment, and may stay that way for a few hours after treatment as well. The sensation felt from acupuncture varies between patient and location of the needle. It generally ranges from no sensation at all to just a small pinprick when the needle enters the skin. Sometimes a feeling of heaviness or warmth around the needle can be felt briefly, similar to a massage. Most patients, from cats to horses, accept acupuncture well. The effects of acupuncture will usually increase with each treatment, therefore it is recommended to try at least 3-4 sessions of acupuncture once weekly.

Underlying and previous medical conditions do not necessarily exempt the patient from trying acupuncture, however it is extremely important that the conditions are known before treatment. For this reason High Tide Veterinary Services requires that medical records be sent from the primary veterinarian so that the highest level of care can be provided. This must be requested by the owner of the patient before an appointment can be made. High Tide Veterinary Services works with your pets primary veterinarian to get your pet as happy and healthy as possible.





My Horse Needs a Dentist Too?

Dentistry is an area that it often over looked, however it is extremely important for the health and comfort of the horse. As horses age their teeth continue to erupt. As they eat the teeth are worn down. This creates sharp edges along the pre-molars and molars, which can then injure the sensitive mucosa and tongue. These sharp points can be very painful for the horse. Common signs are dropping feed while eating, packing feed in the mouth, weight loss, behavior trouble while riding, etc. Some horses may show no signs at all while very sharp points cause them pain.

Horses can also suffer from other problems in the mouth. Painful diastemata, where food gets stuck in-between two teeth, can lead to dental disease. It is important to address the diastemata before it gets severe. Treatment ranges from simply removing the feed to corrective dentistry.

Fractures can also occur to the teeth. In some cases the tooth may be saved, however in severe cases extraction must occur. After extraction the opposing tooth must be corrected every 6-12 months.

Sharp points, diastemata, fractures, and other dental pathology are all important reasons to have a qualified veterinarian provide dental services for your horse. To diagnose and address these issues requires a proper oral exam with a speculum, light, and sedation. Without a proper oral exam diseases are frequently missed, especially in the far back of the mouth. Dental care should start at a young age so that problems can be fixed before they progress. Older horses often require more frequent dental care to address their aging dentition. Every horse should have a sedated oral exam by a qualified veterinarian at least yearly.

Dr. Lee has a special interest in dentistry. In veterinary school she completed a research project looking at peripheral caries in horses, which was recently published in the journal Equine Veterinary Education. She has spent extra time learning from experts in the field to better care for your horses, and looks forward to helping your horse with his/her dental needs.


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Equine Dentistry Coming to San Diego

High Tide Veterinary Services is excited to announce the addition of equine dentistry services starting in January 2019. Horses owners in the San Diego area can benefit from a qualified veterinarian available to provide dental care for their horses. High Tide Veterinary Services works with your normal veterinarian to provide excellent care. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!


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Thai’s Acupuncture Treatment

Thai is a handsome 12 year old who loves his acupuncture treatments. When he was 10 years old he started slowing down on his walks, and didn’t want to walk down hills at all. It was discovered with radiographs (x-rays) and ultrasound that he has osteoarthritis in both shoulder joints. We started acupuncture treatment on him and he loves his walks again! As you can see from the photos this normally crazy high strung pup gets completely relaxed during his acupuncture treatments.