Friday, June 17, 2022

How To Get Rid Of Ulcers In Horses

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Ulcers In Horses: Why And What To Do

Treatment of Gastric Ulcers in horses

Many trainers discuss with their veterinarian or nutritionist that their horses are just not performing, not eating up and just don’t look right. The problem, pure and simple, could be gastric ulcers. They are suffering from equine gastric ulcer syndrome -an ulceration of the oesophageal, gastric or duodenal mucosa.

Symptoms Of Horse Ulcers

Ulcers are, unfortunately, a common part of horse ownership. In fact, 50 to 90 percent of equines experience the symptoms of horse ulcers and later receive a positive diagnosis for them. Performance horses are often at higher risk, with 70 percent of endurance horses and more than 90 percent of thoroughbred racehorses developing ulcers.

As an owner or rider, its crucial to know the signs of horse ulcers because they cause intense discomfort and seldom heal on their own. In fact, only four to 10 percent of equine ulcers heal without treatment.

Keep reading to learn about the symptoms of horse ulcers, as well as the types, treatments and preventative care available to maintain your horses health. As you expand your knowledge as an owner, trainer or barn manager, youll be able to provide better care and help your horses stay comfortable and healthy.

Best Ulcer Treatment For Horses

Stomach ulcers are a common problem that many horses and ponies suffer from. If you own or care for an equine animal, it is important that you understand how to recognize and manage this painful condition. But what is the best ulcer treatment for horses?

With the correct care and attention, stomach ulcers in horses can be cured or the symptoms eased. Lets learn all about this health disorder of horses and find out what ulcer treatments are available.

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Feed Supplements To Address Ulcers

In addition to modifying your feeding program, there are a number of digestive supplements on the market, from old home remedies to packaged products labeled for digestive health.

One simple and commonly used method is to add corn or flax seed oil to the feed. This helps to supply Omega 3 fatty acids, which can help with weight management while the hindgut is compromised and may promote healing.

Another dietary product used in caring for the hindgut is Psyllium Mucilloid. This is a natural dietary fiber that works as a bulk laxative. It is used particularly to help remove ingested sand from the colon, which may cause ulcers or lead to sand colic.

Beyond this, the tack store shelves and catalogs are filled with an assortment of products making all kinds of claims for digestive health or ulcer support. But what really works?

Rather than attempt to review all of the different products out there, lets offer some sound, practical advice: be aware that most of these products dont live up to the claims, so read labels carefully, research ingredients and their effects, and discuss options with your veterinarian.

Dietary And Management Treatments For Equine Ulcers

Ulcer Report

It is our belief that many digestive ailments we see today, including ulcers and even colic, are induced conditions. They are a consequence of modern equine husbandry, including feeding processed feeds a couple times a day, confinement in stalls, training regimens, travel and other aspects of the performance lifestyle. Because horses digestive systems are designed to support a more sedentary lifestyle with a diet of high fiber grass consumed continuously, the care and feeding approaches common today lead to digestive health problems like ulcers.

As a result, we also believe that the best course of action for treating ulcers is to address the root causes. This means changing the way we feed and care for horses, removing the external stresses that lead to the problem in the first place. You may have heard the old idea of calling Dr. Green turning the horse out on pasture to graze, relax and recover.

Of course, we also understand that this is the real world. Horses need to perform, and grain is needed to provide the energy for training and performance. Stalling is necessary, especially in more urban areas where turnout is limited. Still, there are things you can do to modify the feed, or to supplement the diet that may help treat ulcers, and ultimately keep them from returning.

Start by reducing grain/processed feeds, increasing forage, and feeding in multiple small meals throughout the day.

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Diagnosis Of Ulcers In Horses

If you suspect your horse has a gastric ulcer, make an appointment with your veterinarian. An ulcer can be serious, and sometimes fatal if medical attention is not given in time. Your medical professional will ask questions pertaining to his health history, look closely at his clinical signs, perform blood work, urinalysis, biochemistry profile, and other laboratory testing in order to rule out any other illnesses and come to a preliminary diagnosis.

Your doctor may perform specific diagnostic testing using enhanced diagnostic equipment. He may use a gastroscope, which is an approximately 2 meters-long endoscope into the stomach of your horse. This is currently the most accurate and definitive diagnostic test used to confirm the presence of a stomach ulcer or ulcers.

This test will confirm the specificities of the ulcers, such as size, severity, and precise location. Typically, ulcers are found in the upper portion of the organ however, ulcers can also be found in the lower section, including the duodenum. The ulcer will be classified between the areas of 0-4, with a 4 having severe lesions. He will communicate with you the extent of the ulcer and let you know the options for treatment.

What Should I Not Feed A Horse With Ulcers

Try to avoid the use of cereal based concentrates as these increase the risk of ulcers in horses. Use more digestible fibre sources like alfalfa with added oil to meet energy requirements. For example Healthy Tummy provides 11.5MJ/kg of slow-release energy which is the equivalent to a medium energy mix.

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Symptoms Of Hindgut Ulcers In Horses

If all this is happening inside the horses digestive system, how can we tell from the outside? Usually, when digestive problems occur, absorption problems follow soon after. You will typically notice things like decreased appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, poor performance and even colic.

Other symptoms are less obvious, such as reluctance of the horse to flex, extend or collect, and heightened sensitivity on the flanks. Lack of focus, poor temperament and training issues are also common. How do you expect the horse to concentrate under these conditions?

Treatment and Prevention

The obvious answer to all these problems is to drastically change how we feed and care for the animal and to get closer to the way the horses digestive system was intended to work. This means more pasture, more forage and adopting habits such as feeding the horse small amounts of food multiple times a day. Other changes include limiting starch and reducing the amount of stress we subject them to.

Equine supplements can also help a horse who is suffering from hind gut problems. At Kauffmans Animal health, we sell a variety of supplements that can help horses who are suffering from hind gut ulcers. These supplements include Digest-Mor, Equine laxative, KA-HI Pro Paste, Kauffmans Digestive Health, Kauffmans Equine Gold, and Kauffmans Summit.

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Diagnosing Ulcers In Horses

How to treat a horse with ulcers

If you suspect your horse is suffering from an ulcer you need to speak to your veterinarian about it but the only definitive way of diagnosing an ulcer is a gastroscopy . This is where an endoscope is placed down the horses throat, through their esophagus, stomach, and into the opening of their intestine. If its suspected that the ulcer is in the lower region of the stomach then the endoscope may be placed through the rectum, along the intestine, and into the stomach. Both of these methods are usually done under sedation so that the horse is calm and not stressed at all.

While a gastroscopy is the only completely reliable way of diagnosing an ulcer your veterinarian will be able to assess your horse to see the likelihood of his symptoms being the result of an ulcer. He can also perform a number of tests to help with his diagnosis.

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How Is Stomach Ulcer Treated

The most effective treatments for stomach ulcer are supplements that address the ulcer itself. They can reduce the effect of the stomach acids on the GI tract. They can also promote healing and regeneration of the stomach lining. However, besides these supplements, some home remedies can be quite effective in managing ulcer in horses. The most important of these remedies are rest and hay.

Rest is very important for horses that have stomach ulcers because stress can aggravate the condition. In many cases, stress is even a major cause of the condition. Agitation and increased activity can put pressure on the stomach, which can then promote acid reflux. If youre going to care for a horse with stomach ulcers, you should begin by resting it for a sufficient amount of time. At least a week.

Next, ensure that the horse has lots of hay in its bin. The acids that cause the symptoms of ulcer are secreted in a cyclic manner. At some times, the acidity in the horses stomach will be high, and that will aggravate the symptoms. However, if your horses hay bin is always full, it will always have hay in its stomach. A full stomach can then protect your horses stomach lining from the acids that cause the symptoms of ulcer.

Problems In The Hindgut

Horses can experience a wide variety of hindgut health issues, ranging from diarrhea to torsion colics. However, according to Russillo, the most commonly occurring hindgut health issue in the performance horse is colonic ulcers, which are the focus of this article.

Colonic ulcers are the number-one thing I deal with in my patient population, she says. Other issues that can pop up include infectious causes of diarrhea , large bacterial shifts in the colon caused by orally administered antibiotics and dietary intolerances . But by and large, the thing that were day in, day out screening for in the performance horse is definitely going to be could this horse have colonic ulcers? Russillo says.

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How Can You Tell If Your Horse Has Ulcers

How Can You Tell If Your Horse Has Ulcers?

How does a horse act with ulcers? The majority of horses with gastric ulcers do not show outward symptoms. They have more subtle symptoms, such as a poor appetite, and poor hair coat. The effect on performance is not well understood. Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses with poor performance have a higher incidence of squamous gastric ulcers.

Will horse ulcers heal on their own? Most ulcers in the equine stomach occur at the interface between the glandular and non-glandular portions of the stomach. Ulcers in the stomach can heal on their own, over time, but factors like stress and metabolic status can inhibit healing ability.

How do you get rid of horse ulcers? 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.

Stretching As If To Urinate

Allergic Answer Dealing Your Horseâs Allergens.

A horse suffering from EGUS may frequently stretch out like he needs to urinate. This behavior is likely an attempt to relieve discomfort in the abdominal region and is easy to recognize.

It should be noted that horses may also stretch out like this if they are experiencing gas colic. But if your horse displays this behavior on a frequent basis, it could very well be ulcers.

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Gastric Ulcers And Your Horse

Gastric Ulcers and Your Horse

What are gastric ulcers?

Gastric ulcer syndrome, a very common disease in horses is an erosion of the stomach mucosa. There are two sections of the horses stomach the glandular portion, which secretes acid and enzymes to break down food, and the stratified squamous portion. These two parts are separated by a barrier called the margo plicatus. A diagram of the inside lining of the horses stomach is shown below:

Gastric Ulcers and Your Horse

What are gastric ulcers?

Gastric ulcer syndrome, a very common disease in horses is an erosion of the stomach mucosa. There are two sections of the horses stomach the glandular portion, which secretes acid and enzymes to break down food, and the stratified squamous portion. These two parts are separated by a barrier called the margo plicatus. A diagram of the inside lining of the horses stomach is shown below:

Though gastric ulcers can affect any part of the stomach, generally gastric ulcers affect the squamous part of the stomach and are concentrated around the margo plicatus.

What causes gastric ulcers?

Horses evolved as consistently grazing animals, with access to feed at all times. Therefore, the stomach developed to produce acid and enzymes at all times to aid in digestion. However, as horses were domesticated and were kept in stalls without free access to feed, the consistent acid production was no longer buffered by constant forage intake, eventually causing ulceration of the stomach.

How Is Stomach Ulcer Diagnosed

Since ulcer is a gastric problem, the only way diagnose it is to perform an endoscopy. During an endoscopy, the veterinarian inserts a scope into the horses stomach to see if ulcers are on the stomach wall. In some cases, an endoscopy procedure might not be possible. In these scenarios, the veterinarian may simply treat the horse for ulcer and see if the symptoms grow better over time.

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I Think My Horse Is Showing Signs How Will My Vet Diagnose & Treat An Ulcer

Vets have diagnostic equipment where they can scope the horse from each end as well as internally all the way through. Thankfully, there are new fecal tests your vet can perform prior to scoping to determine if it is even indicated. Fecal testing is less stressful for your horse and less expensive for you.

If your horse does have to be scoped, the procedure is usually done at a vet hospital with an overnight stay to ensure your horses intestinal tract is empty and no food or water has been given for 12 hours prior.

When ulcers are found, most vets treat horses with Ulcer Guard or Gastro Guard for 1 to 2 months and it can run up to $1,200 per month to treat a horse without guarantee of cure. This conventional treatment also changes the pH of your horse’s digestive tract and kills the beneficial bacteria necessary for proper digestion.

Provide Constant Water Access

Equine Remedies for Ulcers

Hydration is important for many aspects of equine well-being but particularly for digestive health. Intermittent water intake increases the risk of developing ulcers.

Research shows that horses without access to water in their paddock are 2.5 times more likely to develop ulcers compared to horses with constant water access. Gastric ulcers in this population were also more severe.

Water intake helps to dilute gastric fluids, reducing the stomachs acidity. Consumption of water also supports gut motility, which refers to the transportation of food through the gastrointestinal tract.

Providing water to your horse may be difficult during transportation or when travelling to competitions. It can also be harder to provide fresh water during the winter when freezing conditions can occur.

At times when consistent water access is not possible, the other tips mentioned in this article become increasingly more important to lower ulcer risk for your horse.

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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.

What Causes Leg Ulcers

Some of the most common diseases that lead to the formation of ulcers on your legs include:

  • Venous Disease: This is one of the most common underlying causes of leg ulcers. It accounts for about 80% of cases of ulcers in the leg. Venous disease is usually a result of faulty valves in the veins. When the veins fail to push blood towards the heart, it flows back into the legs, eventually causing ulcers.
  • Arterial Disease: Another disease that triggers leg ulcers is arterial disease. This accounts for 15% of leg ulcers and is a result of blocked arteries in the leg that inhibits blood flow to the underlying tissues.
  • Other Medical Conditions: Leg ulcers can also be formed due to medical conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.

So, how do you know if you have developed leg ulcers? Look out for the signs and symptoms mentioned below.

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Minimize The Use Of Nsaids

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are administered to horses to reduce pain and treat certain conditions.

Phenylbutazone is a common NSAID used for pain management in skeletal muscles. Firocoxib is more commonly used to reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis or bone injuries.

NSAID use may be necessary at times. When advised and monitored by a veterinarian, NSAIDs can benefit your horse.

However, outside of these circumstances, the use of NSAIDs should be limited.

NSAID use has been directly associated with increased ulcers in the digestive tract of horses. These ulcers occur in the squamous and glandular regions of the stomach, as well as the hindgut.

By inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis, NSAIDs reduce mucous production. They may also lower gastric pH levels below the normal pH of 2.

In healthy adult horses, administering phenylbutazone negatively impacted the mucosal barrier of the gastrointestinal tract. This increased ulcers and reduced overall digestive health.

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