Saturday, June 8, 2024

How To Treat Ulcers In Horses

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Should I Have My Horse Scoped Or Treat Instead

Equine Ulcer Treatment – Before and After by Mark DePaolo, DVM

Its a fair question why put my horse through an 18 hour fasting period and pay to have him scoped for gastric ulcers when I can buy Gastrogard and treat as if he did? Gastroscopy can be a stressful procedure due to the fasting required however, the diagnostic clarity helps dictate length of treatment AND medication used for treatment. First, it helps to understand the anatomy of the horses stomach.

The equine stomach is made up of squamous and glandular mucosa. Glandular mucosa is in the lower half and is resistant to damage from acid produced in the stomach. The squamous portion of the stomach is the most commonly affected area, especially at the junction referred to as margo plicatus. Excess acid production is worsened by stress due to showing, traveling, sickness, or physical pain. Often times there are stressors that we dont acknowledge easily, such as an aggressive pasture mate or discomfort that is not visible to us. It is reported that 60-90% of showing horses have evidence of gastric ulceration, mostly seen in the squamous portion of the stomach. The pylorus is where feed exits the stomach and can be a site of ulceration as well. Efforts to heal pyloric ulcers are more involved.

So why scope? The best way to explain this is through examples:

If you have specific questions about your horse, please dont hesitate to reach out to us to see if a gastroscopy would be indicated!

Causes Of Ulcers In Horses

There are several different causes of the development of gastric ulcers in horses. Ulcers can be very mild or quite severe. Causes can include:

  • Feed that does not allow the horse to produce saliva
  • Too much exercise
  • Stress increases the amount of blood flow to stomach
  • Overuse of anti-inflammatory medications

Perfect Company Gastroease Eq

This is the first product on this list thats available in powdered form. The rest have been either liquid or paste. However, dont think that its any less effective because its a powder. GastroEase EQ was developed by the Perfect products, the same people that manufacture hoof repair and joint support supplements.

Perfect products bring their experience to the field in creating this product. It is specifically designed to treat ulcer and keep it at bay. With a daily maintenance dosage, it supports the animals GI Tract from the inside out. It is recommended for show and travel horses that are often subjected to a great deal of stress.

The product works at the tissue level, and it interacts with the horses natural flora. It also provides probiotics and prebiotics for extra GI Tract support. At the beginning of the treatment, you should give your horse 1 scoop twice daily as a loading dose. This will suppress all the ulcer symptoms. Subsequently, you can reduce to 1 scoop a day as a maintenance dose.

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Ulcer Rates Before Training

The researchers assigned each horse a score of 0-4 for squamous ulcers and 0-2 for glandular ulcers , with higher scores being more severe.

Surprisingly, the prevalence was high when the horses were first brought in, said Luthersson, noting 71.6% had squamous ulcer scores of 2 or higher, and 47% had glandular ulcer scores of 1 or higher.

Initially, when looking at equine squamous gastric disease , 26% of the horses had Grade 2 ulcers, 40% had Grade 3 ulcers, and 6% had Grade 4 ulcers. When looking at equine glandular gastric disease , 27% had Grade 1 ulcers, and 20% had Grade 2 ulcers.

At the second evaluation, 14% of horses had Grade 2 ESGD ulcers and 11% had Grade 3. None of the horses had Grade 4 ulcers. This was a significant reduction in the squamous ulcers without any medical treatment. When looking at EGGD at the second evaluation, results showed 32% had Grade 1 ulcers and 9% had Grade 2, which Luthersson said was not a significant change.

For ESGD, the team saw no significant differences between horses of varying sexes and ages. However, the farm and region the horses were from did make a difference.

Age, initial BCS, behavior, number of days worked per week, and performance quality appeared to play a role in EGGD prevalence.

What Are The Symptoms Of An Ulcer

Natural Remedies for Ulcers in Horses

Every horse is different and will display different symptoms but the common things to look out for are:

  • 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 from 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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Clinical Signs Your Horse May Have Ulcers

Clinical signs can be non-specific and are not unique to gastric ulcers. The signs of ulcers often match a range of common complaints experienced by horses. This highlights the need for proper diagnosis by a veterinarian to determine exactly what you are dealing with.

In adult horses these include:

Poor appetite, colic, decreased performance, attitude change, poor body condition and weight loss

In foals these include:

Intermittent nursing, poor appetite, intermittent colic, poor body condition, diarrhoea, teeth grinding, salivation, pot belly and rough hair/coat.

However, owners and trainers should inquire about ulcer treatment for horses if any or all of the signs are observed or reported in the horse.

My Treatment And Feeding Program

The following are the foods and medication I give and why I feed them. You can use whatever want. I do believe the cabbage, oat flour, and pumpkin seeds are easy and are a must. As with all feed changes, you should take one to two weeks to work up to the suggested amounts. All my horses love these foods.

First 2 weeks each day:

Omeprazole Full dose

1 pump of GUTX am & pm

1/4 cup Oat flour

5-10 Tums or 1/4 cup Mylanta in 2 cups of Alfalfa pellets or 1/2 flake of Alfalfa

Several cups of hay pellets before riding

Afterwards: If your horse is doing well, stop the Omeprazole and cut the Sucralfate dose over the next month unless travel or weather warrant it.

Always use at least 1/2 pump am/pm of GutX and Tums/Mylanta/Alfalfa and oat flour.

Feed: Free choice grass hay 24/7

I feel the following are absolutely necessary to heal and maintain the stomach and hind gut:

I mix these with a few cups of hay pellets twice a day in a bucket:

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup ground Flax seeds

In addition, you can use these calming foods for all horses, if you desire:

1 Tablespoon Brewers Yeast ,

Green Tea powder

I do not feed any grains. These are hard on the horses stomach and extremely difficult to digest.

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Diagnosing Ulcers In Horses

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.

What Are The Symptoms

how to treat ulcers in your horse

The clinical signs are variable between horses with some patients displaying no symptoms at all. The signs are as follows but are vague and can be inconsistent

  • Variable appetite
  • Resistance to leg aids or grooming
  • Stereotypies such as cribbing

The most important consideration is any change in behaviour whether it be appetite, manner, eating behaviour or poor performance.

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Feeding Practices To Reduce Risk Of Squamous Ulcers

While omeprazole will help heal existing squamous ulcers, successful management and prevention of future ulcers requires a combination of both medication and nutritional management. Some nutritional management steps include:

  • Feed multiple, smaller grain and/or concentrate meals throughout the day. By rationing the grain into 3 or 4 meals per day, the increased acidity of the stomach that follows a large grain meal can be avoided. When horses eat a grain meal, they do not chew as much and thus not much saliva will be produced to buffer the stomach acid.
  • Ensure your horse has constant access to forage. Provide at least 1.5% of a horse’s bodyweight in dry matter of forage per day. For example, a 1,000-pound horse should receive at least 15 pounds of forage per day . Forage requires more chewing and thus more saliva is secreted compared to a grain or concentrate meal. In addition, the long fiber particles form a mat that floats on top of the stomach contents, helping to prevent the acidic layer from splashing up into the squamous section. If possible, a horse should have 24/7 access to forage. By providing forage throughout the day, both the saliva and forage act as a buffer against stomach acid and can decrease the risk of squamous ulcers developing. If free access to forage is not possible, the use of a slow feed hay net can be used as it increases the horse’s time spent foraging and chewing.
  • Equine Edge Gi Ulcer Support

    Equine Edge is another big name in the world of horse health. They have products that extend to every category, from natural supplements and herbs to kidney and immune system support. This particular product focuses on ulcer and its effects on the horse. Besides relieving the symptoms, it also helps the horses temperament, performance, and general appearance.

    Equine Edge, the manufacturers, recommend that you give your horse G.I Ulcer Support after youve administered another one of their products, GastroPLUS. GastroPLUS isnt strictly an ulcer treatment supplement. However, it does everything from improving the digestion and absorption of the horse, to treating diarrhea.

    G.I Ulcer Support also helps prevent recurrent ulcers in a horse. It contains active ingredients like Papaya, Aloe, L-Glutamine, Turmeric and others. These ingredients dont just address the ulcer. They also provide the horse with essential nutrition that it might have been lacking.

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    Our Final Thoughts On Treating Ulcers In Horses

    If you own a performance horse, you need to be prepared to tackle some stomach ulcers. Unfortunately, the most alluring thing about performance horses is also the reason why they are so prone to ulcers their energy and agility. But, there are several remedies for tackling the condition.

    The home remedy thats most effective is rest and hay. Resting your horse ensures that the stress does not cause excess secretion of gastric acids. The hay makes sure that the animals stomach lining has protection from the acids. You can also try any of the supplements in this guide because they are some of the best ulcer treatment for horses. If you need a product for preventing stomach ulcers, you should try Ulcerguard Oral paste. Guard Ulcer treatment, on the other hand, is a great supplement for curing ulcers.

    Affordable Ulcer Treatments For Horses

    The Best Treatment For Ulcers In Horses

    Omeprazole is the best ulcer medication for horses to treat stomach ulcers. Omeprazole is in a class of medications called proton-pump inhibitors. It works by decreasing the amount of acid produced in the stomach. Treatment of ulcers in horses is recommended for a minimum of 4weeks. It is important to wean or taper off the omeprazole and at the very least increase preventative measures in the days/weeks after omeprazole treatment.

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    Problems In The Equine Hindgut

    Horses are biologically designed to continuously consume small amounts of food, such as pasture grass, throughout the day.

    As an Amazon Associate, Dressage Today may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site. Products links are selected by Dressage Today editors.

    You might have noticed that youve been hearing the phrase hindgut health in conversations about horses more so now than ever before. What does hindgut health mean in the context of your horse and what does it mean for you as his owner?

    In this article, we break down the basics with help from experts Frank Andrews, DVM, LVMA equine committee professor and director of the Equine Health Studies Program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Christina Russillo, DVM, a senior associate at Virginia Equine Imaging in The Plains, Virginia. Remember, in addition to the information provided in this article, always be sure to consult your veterinarian about what is best for your horse as an individual.

    Want To Talk Further About Your Horse’s Specific Needs

    Our nutrition advisors at Nutrikey offer a free diet analysis that is simple, fast, and accessible to all levels and disciplines of horse owners. The team will review your horse’s current diet, considering all of their lifestyle factors to provide a diet plan that will help them look and feel their best. Visit or reach out to

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    Grade 1 To : Stomach Ulcer In Horses Simply Explained

    3min. readWritten by Tanja Dietz

    Stomach ulcers they are one of the most common diseases in horses today. They usually come unnoticed and are only treated when they have already caused massive damage to the horses stomach lining. It should be mentioned here that a stomach ulcer is not just there, but develops over time.

    How To Treat Horse Ulcers Naturally


    Intestinal ulceration is increasing in performance horses. The main reasons behind it are modern methods of rearing and feeding the horses. It was previously thought that intestinal ulcers were only limited to racehorses. However, with changing methods of horse rearing, many sport horses are also becoming victims of this condition.

    Horses have a natural habit of grazing continuously, and they mostly spend half of their day 12 hours grazing. Naturally, the survival mechanism of horses is flight. That is why they do not need their stomach to be full all the time.

    The equine stomach is designed to receive a small but continuous supply of food.

    Hydrochloric acid in the stomach can cause ulcers if horses do not receive small, frequent meals.

    What if your horses are affected by ulcers? How will you treat them? Is there a natural way to treat ulcers in horses naturally? Here in this article, we will discuss some of the natural ways to treat ulcers in horses.

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    How Do Gastric Ulcers Develop

    Horses differ from humans because they secrete stomach acid continuously, even when not eating. Adult horses secrete 30 litres of gastric acid daily. When horses are unable to access food on a continual basis, such as when grazing, the pH balance of the stomach changes drastically and gastric juices begin to attack the stomach mucosa. Acid produced in the stomach is generally buffered by saliva which contains a high concentration of bicarbonate and mucus.

    If access to feed is limited, then consequently the horses’ saliva production is reduced. As a result the squamous portion of the horse’s stomach, the most common part to be affected, lacks the buffer bicarbonate and protective mucous coating to protect the stomach lining from acid.

    Various feed stuffs produce different amounts of saliva. For example, 1kg of hay takes 3000 chewing movements and produces 4 litres of saliva, versus 1kg of grain, which takes only 1000 chewing movements and produces 2 litres of saliva.

    A Recap Of Ulcer Prevention In Horses

    • Avoid long periods without food. Feed frequent small meals.
    • Feed ad lib hay – If feed is withheld, the pH in the stomach drops to 2 in 21 hrs.
    • Place feed bins on the ground to simulate the horses normal grazing position as it helps his chewing action, stimulating the production of more saliva which in turn helps the passage of food to the stomach.
    • Do not exercise on an empty stomach as this allows acid to attack the stomach wall when it is empty.
    • Feed a small amount of lucerne chaff or hay prior to work. Lucerne helps in two ways by acting as a physical barrier and secondly the calcium in the lucerne buffers the acid.
    • Avoid physical and behavioural stress.
    • Avoid long treatments with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Phenylbutazone.

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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.

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    Acid Damage And Ulcer Development

    Ulcers in horses

    Since the upper squamous portion of the stomach does not secrete mucous to protect itself from stomach acid, acid damage can occur leading to ulceration known as ESGD. Unlike humans who only secrete stomach acid when a meal is ingested, horses continuously secrete stomach acid throughout the day. Saliva contains an important buffer, bicarbonate, which helps to neutralize the stomach acid, but this is only secreted in a healthy horse while they are chewing. For example, if a horse is only fed twice a day, then they may run out of forage in between meals and while acid is still being secreted in the stomach, no saliva is being produced because the horse is not eating anything. Thus, no buffer is sent to the stomach to help protect the squamous section. Therefore, the timing between meals should be kept in mind when feeding horses.

    Horses that are fed diets high in sugar and starch have an increased risk for ulcer development. These starches are rapidly fermented by resident microbes in the gastrointestinal tract and produce acid byproducts which make the stomach environment even more acidic. Furthermore, grains do not require as much chewing as forages, leading to smaller quantities of saliva produced for a shorter amount of time. So not only will the ingestion of grains produce a more acidic stomach environment than forages, but they also do not cause as much secretion of saliva to help buffer the stomach.

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