Ulcers In Horses: What You Should Know

June 07, 2017

Most people don’t realize how common ulcers in horses truly are. Adult horses and even foals are at risk for this medical condition. Up to 1/3 of stabled horses may have a mild ulcer. Because of unnatural environments, the likelihood of a stalled horse getting one is quite high. Gastric ulcers can cause irritation to the stomach, which can effect your horse’s performance and work ethic.

Causes

  • Infrequent meals- In normal grazing situations, the acids in the stomach are neutralized by grass and salvia. When a horse only eats twice a day, the acids are able to build up without a food buffer.
  • Lack of roughage- Hay requires more chewing and encourages the production of saliva.
  • Medications- Anti-inflammatory drugs like Bute eliminate the stomach’s protective layer, which makes the lining more vulnerable.
  • Stress- It can decrease the blood flow to the stomach.

Signs

  • Poor performance
  • Weight loss
  • Bad attitude
  • Colic
  • Poor coat quality
  • Dullness
  • Sensitive to touching of the stomach

Your veterinary will need to scope your horse to confirm if ulcers are present.

Treatment

  • Turnout onto pasture
  • Increase hay
  • Probiotics
  • Limit stressful situations
  • Medication- Different drugs, such as omeprazole, help to block acid production.

Prevention is key to keeping your horse happy and healthy. Medications can be expensive and require multiple doses. Try to keep your horse’s environment as natural as possible. By treating him like the horse he is, you’ll have a partner more willing to give his all.

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