Oil As A Treatment Or Preventative For Gastric Ulcers
There appears to be a lot of advice on various forums about feeding corn oil to treat or prevent gastric ulcers in horses. Much of this has supposedly been on the advice of vets!
The idea to feed corn oil to horses with gastric ulcers goes back to a paper published in 2004 by Cargile et al. However, these authors likely got the idea from a 1987 study which showed that feeding oil to rats prevented experimentally induced peptic ulcers .
One poorly designed study reported that feeding 45ml of corn to four ponies slightly decreased gastric acid secretion, BUT they did not scope the stomachs.
In a larger and properly designed study, feeding 240ml per day of refined rice bran oil or crude rice bran oil or corn oil for five weeks had no effect on gastric ulcer formation. Conclusion? Oil will not treat or prevent ulcers. Replacing starch energy in the diet with oil as an energy source may help in management of gastric ulcers.
Causes For Ulcer Treatment For Horses
- A high-concentrate diet with low-roughage intake
- Withholding feed during competitions and intensive exercise on an empty stomach. Exercise Exercise is shown to reduce blood flow to the stomach lining as well as increasing abdominal pressure which may cause gastric compression, in turn forcing acid contents into the proximal stomach
- Other factors which induce a stressful environment including physical stress such as illness and behavioural stress such as stall confinement, long-distance transportation, unfamiliar environments
- Use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (e.g. Phenylbutazone or Flunixin meglumine
Does Exercise Have An Effect On Gastric Ulcers In Horses
Yes especially on an empty stomach, as this encourages acid splashing. Any movements more than walking can cause the liquid in the horse’s stomach to slosh around and splash into the upper part of the stomach. Over the last decade, horse feeding times have been focused to be before exercise. Research varies regarding the emptying rates of the horses stomach, with some estimates as low as 20 minutes. However, emptying rates depend on the type of feed given , how much food is given and the method used for assessment.
Some researchers have used appearance of drug marker compounds in blood as an indicator and reported 31 minutes for emptying in ponies . The use of oral electrolytes in pastes and powders before or after exercise, when they are not administered at the same times as feed, can increase ulceration .
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Equine Gastric Ulcer Drug Treatments
While there is only one FDA-approved drug product available for treating gastric ulcers in horses, there are a number of pharmaceutical remedies commonly used. They all generally fall into three categories:
- Antisecretory agents shut down acid production in the stomach to allow healing to occur. Drugs in this category include omeprazole, ranitidine and cimetidine. Omeprazole is the active ingredient in Gastrogard®, and is also sold in generic forms, often at a lower price.
- Neutralizing agents buffer acids and/or coat the stomach lining to protect the stomach and reduce the corrosive effect of acid. Antacids or bismol products are common drugs in this category. The actual effectiveness of antacids and coatings has generally been minimal.
- Antibiotics treat bacteria in the ulcer bed that can inhibit healing. While not used in every case, antibiotics can be helpful if gastric ulcers are taking longer than normal to heal because the ulcers are inflamed from bacterial infection.
Introduce Feed Changes Gradually
Abrupt changes in your horses feeding program and routine may cause stress, which can exacerbate ulcer risk.
Hay changes are a significant factor for digestive upset and ulcers. Research shows that feeding hays with different nutrient compositions can alter microbial populations throughout the digestive tract.
When making changes to your horses feeding program such as the suggestions made in this guide do so over a two-to-three-week period.
Gradually replace a small percentage of your horses current feed with the new feed until your horse is fully switched over.
If altering your horses feeding schedule, introduce changes incrementally, such as moving feeding times by 30 minutes to an hour at most.
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My Horse Is An Eventer And Is Working Quite Hard But Has Recently Been Diagnosed With Ulcers My Vet Has Told Me To Just Feed Fibre
Absolutely! Alfa-A Oil is our highest energy feed at 12.5MJ DE per kg which is comparable to a competition or conditioning mix. However, it contains around 10 times less starch than a cereal based feed with a comparable energy value so is much better for gut health. The fibre and oil provide slow release energy and so you may find that your horses behaviour and focus improves too a study we supported a few years ago showed that horses on fibre and oil based diets were less reactive to novel stimuli than those on a cereal based ration. Dont just take our word for it though. 4* eventer Lucy Jackson has competed at the highest level on a fibre based diet!
Intestine Wellness Horse Feed Supplement
The Gut health equine feed supplement is a quick-acting aloe-based gut supplement for horses. The Gut health and wellness horse feed was specially designed for sensitive horses with major digestive tract problems. The gut health feed is particularly efficient since it utilizes a PH crystal stabilizing formula that improves its effectiveness. Not only is it much better for horses in this manner, yet it also minimizes the signs and symptoms of many intestine symptoms and irritations.
Other than boosting total digestive tract health, this fantastic product also boosts food digestion, advertises a fuller coat, increases hoof growth, and also weight gain. The Gut Health horse feed supplement can be found in a liquid type, and it also consists of vitamins as well as various other vital minerals.
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How Are Gastric Ulcers In Horses Measured
Ulcers are classified according to the global Equine Gastric Ulcer Council system.
This classifies ulcers into four levels of severity, scored 1 to 4:
1. Redness, indicative of inflammation, is seen below in the margo plicatus
2. Multiple, small, discrete ulcers
3. Large ulcers, where a clear central erosive part is seen
4. Large single or multiple ulcers which show signs of central haemorrhage
What Are The Symptoms Of An Ulcer
Every horse is different and will display different symptoms but the common things to look out for are:
- Poor appetite
- Reduction in performance
- Lying down more than normal
Some horses will continue to eat the same amount of food but will change the way they eat. Instead of eating all of their feed in one go, theyll eat a little bit of it then walk away and come back to it later. This is because theyre in pain when they eat but are still hungry.
In more serious cases horses have been known to grind their teeth due to the pain and lie on their backs. Its more common in foals, but its thought that they lie on their backs as that position offers some relief of the pain. If your horse is producing brown gastric fluid then its possible that he may have a bleeding ulcer and veterinarian assistance is crucial.
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What Should You Feed A Horse With An Ulcer
If your horse has suffered from an ulcer then when it comes to his feed its time to go back to basics and keep it simple. If you keep these points in mind you cant go far wrong:
- Plenty of forage Forage takes longer to chew than concentrates and as a result, produces a lot more saliva which will help to keep the levels of stomach acid under control.
- Little and often Weve all heard it a million times before but feeding horses little and often is crucial for a healthy gut and digestive system, and therefore a happy horse.
- Avoid too many cereals Cereal concentrates dont allow the horse to produce the amount of saliva they need which increases their risk of ulcers. Thats not to say you shouldnt feed concentrates but try to find one that has a higher proportion of digestible fiber
- Include alfalfa Studies have shown that the protein levels in alfalfa make it one of the best sources of fiber when it comes to treating horses with ulcers.
- Dont exercise on an empty stomach You dont need to feed your horse a lot before exercise, a scoopful of chopped fiber is enough. This will ensure his stomach isnt empty and therefore the acid wont be left to slosh around.
- Turn out Turning your horse out as much as possible will not only give him a chance to graze but will also reduce his stress levels. This will help when treating ulcers because itll take away one of the triggers for them.
How To Diagnose And Treat Gastric Ulcers In Horses
The Your Horse Ulcer Free series will equip you with the knowledge to recognize, treat, and ultimately prevent equine ulcers in a better, more lasting way. Be sure to check out the other articles in the series for an overview of equine ulcers, gastric ulcers, colonic ulcers, and diagnosing equine ulcers.
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Preventing Ulcers In Horses
The best defense against gastric ulcers is promoting a healthy diet and exercise habits. While this may be near impossible for racehorses, you can alleviate some of the stress placed on the horse by:
- Reducing grain in their diet.
- Offering continuous foraging on hay and grass.
- Limiting or eliminating anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Creating a calm environment for transportation
- Reducing training intervals.
- Allowing turnout with other horses.
According to Kentucky Equine Research, all horses should eat 1.5 to 2% of their body weight in forage daily for overall digestive health and motility. And horses shouldnt go longer than four or five hours between forage meals.
Rogue Pet Science uses only proven ingredients to create all-natural pet supplements and vitamins to improve your horses overall nutrition and gut health. Rogue Pet Science offers a natural, highly digestible, and nutritious Origins Equine 5 in 1 supplement to help extend the life of your horse.
Is your horse struggling to maintain weight? Rogue Pet Science equine supplements can significantly improve your horses overall gut health.
Ulcerguard Oral Paste Syringe
This product does exactly what the name suggests guards your horse against ulcers. It is great as a preventive prescription for the condition. However, if your horse has already developed ulcer, it is also great as a preventive treatment.
The product comes in easy to use syringes that are designed for single-use. The main solution is cinnamon flavored, which is a taste that most horses love. The active ingredient in Ulcerguard is Omeprazole, which acts by suppressing the production of acid in a horses stomach.
If you purchase a pack of 6 products, you save money on two of them. This goes to show how much the company cares for horses and their gastric health. The only problem you might have with purchasing the product is that its so effective, you might not need all the syringes!
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The Merial Ulcergard Oral Paste Syringe
The Merial UlcerGard oral paste is a fast-acting oral horse supplement for horses suffering from stomach and digestive issues. The Merial Ulcergard prevent equine gastric ulcer syndrome, reduces inflammation of the stomach walls, and reduce the symptoms associated with ulcer.
The Ulcergard comes in a paste format. That means that it was designed to be used onsite. Performance horses especially will benefit from the calming effects of the Merial Ulcergard.
What Is The Best Ulcer Treatment For Horses
The most common and effective treatment for stomach ulcers in horses is a drug called omeprazole. Your veterinarian may also refer to this drug as AbPrazole®. This medication is very expensive, but in most cases, it will completely cure this painful condition.
Omeprazole comes in paste form and is given once per day. It works by reducing the high levels of acid in the stomach, giving the ulcers chance to heal. It is normal to repeat the gastroscopy examination after one month of treatment, to check that the ulcers are healing.
Once the omeprazole has begun to take effect, the clinical symptoms of EGUS should start to subside. This can take some time, however, it is vital to persist with the medication until your horse starts to show some improvement.
If your horse does not respond to treatment or if the symptoms are very bad your veterinarian may recommend other medications. The other main medication used in the treatment of EGUS is sucralfate. This medication coats the ulcers in a protective layer, helping them to heal.
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Feeding Management Strategies For Horses With Gastric Ulcers
Equine Innovation Manager
Gastric ulceration in the horse is a highly prevalent, yet often difficult to manage condition. The development of gastric ulcers is a function of multiple factors including breed, exercise level, diet, and management. Because of the multi-factorial nature of this disease state, a multi-faceted approach including medical treatment, management changes, and nutritional intervention is necessary to best support horses with gastric ulcers. Dietary management is critical in reducing the risk of developing gastric ulcers and supporting optimal gastric health.
Are There Different Types Of Ulcers
There are three different types of ulcers that a horse can suffer from depending on whereabouts in their stomach the ulcer is.
- Equine Squamous Gastric Ulcer Syndrome Also known as a squamous ulcer, its more commonly associated with a lack of forage and access to water as well as a change in housing and lack of contact with other horses. It affects the area that covers the top third region of the horses stomach known as the squamous.
- Equine Glandular Gastric Ulcer Syndrome The lower two-thirds of the stomach, and in particular the end of the stomach known as the antrum, are affected by EGGUS . Theses ulcers are more commonly linked to prolonged use of drugs such as NSAIDs as well as bacteria infections.
- Colonic ulcer Sometimes referred to as right dorsal colitis , colonic ulcers form in the large intestine. Theyre not as common as the other types of ulcer but are similar in cause to EGGUS.
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Symptoms Of Ulcers In Horses
Symptoms of ulcers in horses are not always very easy to distinguish from other issues or diseases, but some common ones include weight loss, dull coat, biting when being girthed and intermittent colic. However, it is important to understand that good doers and overweight horses can have ulcers, too. It is also apparent that there is no link between the severity of ulcers and the symptoms some horses are clearly very stoic with grade 4 ulcers and no signs of any problems visible on the outside!
Feeding strategies that increase the risk of gastric ulcers in horses:
- Feed for horses with ulcers might be lacking in fibre chewing fibre produces more than double the amount of saliva than chewing concentrates which helps to neutralise acidity in the horses stomach
- Feeding 1% of bodyweight of grain resulted in a marked increase in ulcers in non-exercised horses
- Feeding 2g/kg BW starch per day or 1g/kg BW per meal more than doubled the risk of gastric ulcers in horses
The Following Is The Current Best Advice On Feeding To Prevent Gastric Ulceration:
- Allow access to high quality forage, predominantly during the day , at a minimum daily rate of 1.5kg/100kg body weight , ideally given continuously or at no more than 6 hour intervals.
- Multiple forage sources in the stable improve eating consistency and allow foraging activity.
- There is no difference between hay and haylage as a forage source in relation to ulceration.
- Straw feeding should not exceed 0.25kg/100kgBWT, and it should not be the only forage source.
- Free access to fresh water 24 hours a day.
- Concentrate ration should be split into 3, rather than 2 meals per day
- Total starch intake should not exceed 2g per kg bodyweight per day
- Whilst there is no evidence to support the use of specific âgastric healthyâ commercial diets, the use of BETA EGUS approved feeds does ensure that you will not exceed the maximum starch level.
- Chaff should be added to all meals.
- Corn oil or rapeseed oil can reduce the amount of stomach acid produced and could increase barrier mucus function in the glandular mucosa
- Pre-exercise chaff feeding – 2L un-molassed chaff given within 30 mins of exercise may trap acid and limit ulceration, and improve gastric blood supply.
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What Are Equine Gastric Ulcers
Gastric Ulcers are lesions in the stomach, which may be manifested at different degrees of severity. These lesions can only be identified by endoscopy, whereby the endoscope is introduced into the stomach via the nasal passage and a camera on the end of the scope used to see any damage to the stomach wall. Gastric ulcers are painful to horses and need to be prevented wherever possible.
Low levels of damage may be seen as inflamed redness just above the margo plicatus. This either delineates the lower and upper parts of the stomach, or as small, round, distinct lesions through to sever ulcers. Severe ulcers are seen as larger, round or blended erosions, which may show signs of haemorrhage in the centre.
A Complete Guide To Gastric Ulcers In Horses
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Gastric ulcers affect 69% of horses, according to Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine. But some horse breeds are particularly susceptible. For example, 93% of endurance horses and 70% of racehorses develop ulcers.
If your horse has gastric ulcers or you suspect that they might have ulcers, then youll want to read our complete guide to gastric ulcers in horses. Well cover types of ulcers in horses, causes, symptoms, and possible treatment.
If you are concerned about your horse by the end of this article, you should make an appointment with your equine veterinarian. Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure that your horse has ulcers is to be evaluated by a vet.
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