What Is Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome
In order to treat Skippy effectively, its important to understand the overall scope of the problem. First, a gastric ulcer isnt a disease. It simply refers to a lesion or lesions, which, like gastritis, are also part of a syndrome, or a collection of conditions such as the ones Skippy is currently displaying. All of these symptoms can be lumped together under one parent term used to describe ulcers caused by a more specific underlying disease: Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome.
Most horse people are familiar with the concept of gastric ulcers. Many trainers and barn managers keep a tube of omeprazole on hand at all times to suppress the production of gastric acid in a horse they suspect may have gastric ulcers. And sometimes, it helps. But its crucial to know what type of ulcer youre dealing with in order to treat it effectively.
How Are Gastric Ulcers Treated
There is currently only one pharmaceutical treatment omeprazole approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for gastric ulcers in horses. Omeprazole is available as a paste formulation and has been very effective in preventing and treating gastric ulceration in all types of horses. Although the commercial paste is expensive, it is very effective and requires administration once a day. Due to the cost of this product, some compounding pharmacies prepare and sell paste or liquid omeprazole at cheaper prices. However, several studies have shown that the amount of active omeprazole in those products is lower than the label. In addition, the ability of those products to inhibit gastric acid production and their ability to resolve gastric ulcers has been variable. Horse owners should be wary of claims for products that are not controlled or regulated by the FDA or evaluated in scientific studies. While those products may be less expensive to purchase, they may be more costly in the end due to inefficacy.
A preventative dose of omeprazole is commercially available for use around transport or stressful events. Horses with a history of gastric ulceration may benefit from proactive treatment to decrease the chances of ulcer recurrence. At this dosage, the omeprazole is less costly and may serve as a good investment.
Are There Herbal Blends That Can Be Used For Ulcer Prevention And Healing
Yes. There are a couple of companies besides Earth Song Ranch who do herbal blends for ulcers now.
Our Tummy Tamer blend includes powdered aloe vera leaf, Slippery Elm, and other soothing and anti-inflammatory herbs. Over the 12+ years we’ve produced Tummy Tamer, we’ve had a lot of happy horse owners report that they were able to take their horse off of the veterinary meds and save a lot of money by following our ulcer advice. In fact, Tummy Tamer has become one of our best sellers over the years as horse owners and guardians seek out alternative, natural approaches.
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Dietary Supplement For Horses Properties :
- Soothing effect and protection of the stomach
- Support of the intestinal flora
This liquide supplement is recommended for horses with a sensitive digestive tract, prone to gastric ulcers or having undergone antibiotics or anti-inflammatory treatment that weaken the gastric wall or disrupt the intestinal flora.The turmeric helps to control the gastric acid secretion and therefore prevents the development of ulcers.Its action combined with licorice provides a soothing effect on the stomach.The 100% natural marine biopolymerics contained in this dietary supplement stimulate the healing process of ulcers while the brewers yeast acts like a probiotic of the intestinal flora, involved in restoring the natural balance of the digestive system.
Managing Ulcers In Horses
The pH of a horses stomach is more likely to remain below 4 when the stomach is empty. Keeping free-choice forage available helps maintain a more alkaline environment. Remember that horses evolved eating many small meals throughout the day, and consequently the equine stomach secretes acid 24/7. Consuming small, but frequent, amounts of forage helps buffer the constant supply of acid.
A common diet modification is the addition of alfalfa hay. The calcium and protein in alfalfa helps buffer acid and reduce the risk of ulcers.
Alfalfa hay is a dietary antacid, it has high calcium, Andrews said. It does have an effect on reducing that acid load in the stomach.
Many veterinarians and nutritionists recommend reducing the amount of grain concentrates in the ration and increasing forage. Forage provides more chew time, allowing the horse to produce more saliva, a natural stomach buffer.
Finally, stall confinement puts a horse at increased risk of colic and general stress. Providing turnout often helps a horse relax, and the exercise will help keep the digestive tract moving.
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What Are Horse Ulcers
Horse gastric ulcers are sores that form in the lining of the stomach. Ninety percent of all horses will develop ulcers at some point in their life. Horses have four types of ulcers. Squamous ulcers occur in the upper part of the stomach, close to the esophagus, and are referred to as Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome. Glandular ulcers are found in the lower part of the stomach and are referred to as Equine Glandular Gastric Disease. Pyloric ulcers are found in the opening of the stomach to the small intestines.
But why are ulcers so prevalent in horses?
Compared to other large animals, the horses stomach is on the smaller side. In fact, because of the size of their stomach, experts recommend horses should eat smaller meals more often.
A horses stomach acts like two stomachs in one. The upper portion of the stomach is called the squamous. It does not produce any digestive acids and therefore does not have a protective lining. It is particularly vulnerable to ulcers. The lower portion of the stomach is known as the glandular. It produces digestive acid twenty-four seven and, as a result, has a protective lining.
Squamous ulcers occur during a horses movement when acid splashes up onto the upper portion of the stomach where there is no protective lining and causes irritation. In some cases, it produces an ulcer. Even though movement can result in ulcers developing, they are preventable.
Figure 2 The Equine Stomach with permission from Jean Abernethy
Preventing Gastric Ulcers In Horses
As always with health and wellness, prevention is the best medicine. We stress horses digestive systems simply by owning them and removing them from their natural environment. Then we further compound the difficulties by riding, traveling, and competing. Thus its critical, especially for the performance horse, to take as many measures as possible to encourage better digestive health.
We stress horses digestive systems simply by owning them and removing them from their natural environment. Then we further compound the difficulties by riding, traveling, and competing
The most beneficial changes to your feed and management program may include:
- Providing as much turnout as possible with other horses
- Offering forage continuously around the clock
- Feeding alfalfa, which is shown to help buffer stomach acids
- Reducing grain-based feed intake
- Providing fats as a source of energy/calories
- Feeding multiple small meals throughout the day
- Mixing chaff with grain meals to increase chewing and slow intake
- Using hay nets or slow feeders to increase chewing and slow intake
- Feeding beet pulp, a complex carbohydrate metabolized in the hindgut, for higher caloric needs
In addition to these, and especially when its not possible to implement them all, digestive supplements can also play a role in supporting your horses gut health. Certain digestive supplements can help:
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Cheap Way To Treat Ulcers In Horses
Stomach ulcers are the primary health epidemic in the equine world. Allianz Insurance and Pet Plan Equine have more than 42 years of experience insuring horses. They have reported that of the “Top Five Most Common Health Problems in Horses,” Gastric Ulcers is the No. 1 ranked health problem in insurance dollars paid out.
More than 80-90% of racehorses in training and 52% of horses of all breeds from 1-24 years old had gastric ulcers during gastro-endoscopic studies. Unfortunately, most people do not know for sure whether their horses have gastric ulcers. For example, adult horses with ulcers can exhibit a combination of poor appetite, dullness, attitude changes, decreased performance, poor body and hoof condition, rough hair coat, weight loss, and colic.
Cost of Treating and Diagnosing Ulcers in Horses
The unfortunate reality of horse ulcers is that they are expensive to diagnose and treat. The only way to truly diagnose ulcers is with a video camera in the horse’s stomach. A video camera is placed up its nose, swallowed, passed through the esophagus and into the stomach. A scope can cost $250. Two are usually required one at the beginning and one at the end of a treatment period to see whether it was effective.
Effects of Long-Term Use of Omeprazole
The Real Cause of Gastric Ulcers
Horse Trainers Secret for Preventing Ulcers
Veterinarians Find Inexpensive Treatment for Ulcers
Risk Factors For Developing Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome
Despite much study and the high prevalence of stomach ulcers in horses, the definitive reasons why some horses are more susceptible to developing lesions than others is still largely unknown. We do know, however, that squamous and glandular ulcers do seem to develop in response to different risk factors.
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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.
Why Horses Get Gastric Ulcers And How To Treat Them Naturally
The Feed Supplement Miracle That Beats Acid-Blockers: It doesnt just temporarily mask the symptoms either like antacids or acid-blockers do. Instead, it works by repairing, balancing and strengthening your horses entire digestive system. It improves nutritional absorption in the digestive track as nature intended.
Stomach ulcers in horses is major health epidemic in the equine world and may be preventable. More than 52% of horses of all breeds from one to twenty four years old had gastric ulcers during a recent gastro-endoscopic study . The Equine Gastric Ulcer Council found that gastric ulcers were present in 80-90% of racehorses in training.
Most people do not know for sure if their horses have gastric ulcers. They may only suspect the presence of ulcers because of small noticeable changes in their horses condition. For example, adult horses with ulcers can exhibit a combination of poor appetite, dullness, attitude changes, decreased performance, poor body and hoof condition, rough hair coat, weight loss and colic. Treating gastric ulcers with acid blockers sometimes helps to relieve the symptoms, but may prolong the problem.
Ulcer Formation Mechanism
Management of Equine Gastric Ulcers
One brand you can trust is Starting Gate Granules from SBS EQUINE. It is available through a few select dealers that promote equine supplements. For more articles on gastric equine ulcers and other horse related issues visit www.sbsequine.com.
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Drugs That Suppress Acid
The most commonly used type of drug for ulcers in either the squamous region or glandular region of the stomach , are drugs that decrease secretion of acid into the stomach and raise the pH of the stomach contents. The best known of these is the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole . Another drug which may be prescribed for your horses ulcers is ranitidine . Ranitidine also makes the stomach less acid but by a different mechanism and is known as an H2-receptor antagonist. Omeprazole is generally considered more effective than ranitidine.
For squamous ulcers, omeprazole at 4mg/kg once a day for 28 days has been shown to result in healing of 70-77%. For glandular ulcers, whilst older studies and one recent study showed healing rates of 70-80% within 28 days of treatment, more recent studies have suggested the healing rate with omeprazole at 4mg/kg once a day may be as low as 25%.
Omeprazole alone or without management changes may not be effective for all horses, as 50% of horses with squamous ulcers were the same or worse after 90 days treatment with the standard dose of omeprazole .
Faqs Regarding Horse Ulcer Supplements
Still, confused whether or not you should get a horse ulcer supplement for your powerful buddy? Or which one to buy? Read through the following questions to clarify all your doubts.
Does my horse need an ulcer supplement?
If your horse has the risk to get an ulcer, it is better to keep them on supplements. According to the researchers, 90% of the horses suffer from gastric ulcers which may affect the concentration of food in horses. So, supplements will help them in increasing the meal feed and have a healthy diet.Even if your horse does not suffer from an ulcer at the moment, still the supplements will help prevent the disease. But, remember one thing not all supplements are as effective as they should be, in treating the ulcer. Hence, choose the supplement after consulting with a vet.
How to choose a good ulcer supplement for horses?
Choosing a good ulcer supplement is a tough job in itself. Three main areas you need to cover while choosing an effective ulcer supplement are as follows: The price of the supplement must be affordable The efficacy of the supplement must be high enough to reduce the ulcer Make sure the supplement does not trigger any harmful side-effects
Why are horse ulcer supplements better than medicine?What grain is good for horses with ulcers?Is gut balancer good for horses with ulcers?How to prevent a horse from getting ulcers?
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Feed Fibre Before Exercise
One of the age-old golden rules of feeding horses is not to exercise on a full stomach, however, this only applies to concentrate feeds and it is actually highly recommended to allow your horse some hay or chaff immediately before exercise. Having fibre present in the stomach will help to prevent the gastric acid splashing up into the non-glandular portion of the stomach, where ulcers are most common.
Equine Ulcers: What Are They
Ulcers are painful lesions that occur along the gastrointestinal tract of the horse. They develop when stomach acid causes erosion of cells and inflammation in the stomach wall.
The stomach of the horse continuously produces acid such as hydrochloric acid whether there is food to digest or not. This makes the stomach a highly acidic environment which is a major risk factor for ulcer development.
The upper squamous region of the stomach is the most at risk for ulceration with up to 80% of all ulcers located here.
This region of the stomach cannot produce mucous to line and protect the stomach wall, leaving it susceptible to ulcer risk factors such as acids.
Instead of mucous, horses rely on food and saliva to buffer and protect the squamous region of the stomach. However, when the horses stomach is empty, these defences are inactive and ulceration can occur.
The glandular region of the stomach is also exposed to stomach acid. However, it produces mucous and bicarbonate to buffer acids which protects the lining of this area.
Ulcers can also occur in the hindgut which consists of the colon and cecum. Hindgut or colonic ulcers are less common than EGUS, but can be just as detrimental.
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Feed A Low Starch High Fibre Concentrate Feed
Forage in the form of grass, hay and haylage should form the majority of a horses diet. If additional concentrate feed is required, either to provide energy for work or to maintain body condition, this should be one which is high in fibre and low in starch. Feeds containing cereals should be avoided and instead, those which use fibre and oil as energy sources are much lower in starch and more natural for the horse.
Any concentrate feed should be split into as many smaller meals as possible. Unless the horse is overweight, the addition of oil to the diet is beneficial as this can help buffer the horses digestive tract. For horses with gastric issues research suggests providing a diet with as low a starch and sugar level as possible. Research has found that keeping the starch and sugar content in the diet low is beneficial . It is also important to ensure that the horse is provided with lots of forage because this will promote chewing, which in turn increases saliva production .
What Is The Best Ulcer Treatment For Horses
The best ulcer treatment for horses is one that will be prescribed by your veterinarian following a diagnosis of EGUS. This medication is called omeprazole and works by reducing the amount of gastric acid produced by the stomach. A course of omeprazole will normally take at least one month to be effective.
Unfortunately, omeprazole can be quite expensive, but there is no other medication that is quite as effective at treating gastric ulcers in horses.
Whilst the horse is being treated with omeprazole, other medications can be given to relieve the symptoms of stomach ulcers. One of these is sucralfate, which coats the sensitive lining of the stomach and helps the ulcers to heal. It is important to remember that sucralfate must not be given at the same time of day as omeprazole.
The most important factor to bear in mind when caring for a horse with stomach ulcers is that they will not resolve unless the underlying cause is removed. Omeprazole will help to heal the ulcers, but if management changes are not put in place the ulcers will recur as soon as treatment is stopped.
This means that management changes will need to be put in place to prevent the recurrence of the ulcers. If the horse is on a high exercise regime, this must be reduced. A small feed of alfalfa given half an hour before exercise can help to reduce the amount of excess stomach acid. Stabled horses should spend more time out at pasture, and be given access to forage at all times.
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