Understanding Equine Gastric Ulcers

Ulcer Care

Wherever there is stress, there can be stomach ulcers. Gastric ulcers (equine gastric ulcer syndrome – EGUS) are quite common in horses and foals, and they can develop quickly. Gastric ulcers are described as sores and inflammation affecting tissues of the distal esophagus, stomach, and entrance into the duodenum. Performance horses are particularly susceptible, but any horse can be affected during times of stress. It is estimated that ulcers are prevalent in at least 90% of racehorses and over 60% of show horses (1.).

Causes of equine gastric ulcers include:

  • exercise/competition
  • stress: including travel, stall confinement, socialization, and hospitalization
  • infrequent/minimal feed intake
  • medication use – particularly non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Symptoms of equine gastric ulcers include:
  • abdominal discomfort (colic)
  • poor appetite
  • mild weight loss
  • poor body condition
  • attitude changes
  • frequent lying down

    The only definitive method of diagnosis is endoscopy and visualization of the ulcers in an empty stomach. However, a presumptive diagnosis can be reasonably made from a significant reduction in clinical signs after several days of treatment with a medication known to be effective.

    UlcerGard and GastroGard – FDA-approved omeprazole formulas

    GastroMax III – a proprietary supplement with omeprazole, sodium acid carbonate, and L-glutamine

    Command Ulcer – coats and soothes the GI tract; enhances mucous production to promote healing

    Command G.I. Align – rapidly visible results in horses with diarrhea, poor appetite, and weight loss

    Succeed Digestive Conditioning Program –targeted nutrients to support the stomach and hindgut

    A study in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science(2.) monitored long-term use of both Omeprazole and Succeed Digestive Conditioning Program. Both treatments significantly reduced ulcer scores at day 30 and day 60 of use. At day 90, Omeprazole and Succeed had nearly equal results: 10 of 19 treated with Omeprazole, and 9 of 17 horses treated with Succeed, had reducing squamous ulcer scores.

    In addition to supplements and medications, consider changes in your horse’s daily diet:

    Increase the amount of time spent eating by using a grazing muzzle or hay net to slow consumption.

    Increase roughage; decrease grain.

    Enrich the diet with probiotics, vitamins, and minerals.

    Lori

    Valley Vet Supply

  • Gastric Ulcers in Horses
  • Andrews, Frank M.

    Merck Veterinary Manual

  • A Comparison Between Omeprazole and a Dietary Supplement for the Management of Squamous Gastric Ulceration in Horses
  • Kerbyson, Nicola C. et al.

    Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, Volume 40, 94 – 101

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