Sunday, June 16, 2024

What To Give A Horse With Ulcers

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Is Beet Pulp Good For Horses With Ulcers

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

Beet pulp is potentially good for horses with ulcers. Lower amounts of starch in the diet, like in beet pulp, are also linked with lower chances of developing ulcers. It is often recommended to increase the moisture content of a horses diet to prevent ulcers. The moisture helps buffer the acidity of the stomach.

Feeding Horses With Ulcers

Even if a horse have ulcers, the animal still needs to eat to stay healthy â in fact, more eating can help improve ulcers because saliva has anti-acidic properties and can help neutralize acid in the front of the stomach where ulcers are most common. This doesnât mean simply increasing the animalâs feed, however. Feeding a horse with ulcers must be done carefully to prevent aggravating the ulcers while still ensuring the animal receives the appropriate nutrition.

With the proper diet, many equine ulcers will heal on their own. Maintaining an ulcer-care diet can ensure the problems do not resurface and keep the horse healthy, well-fed, and ulcer-free.

Feed Choices For Horses With Gastric Ulcers

Historically, stomach ulcers, formally referred to as Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome 1, have primarily been the focus of the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets. Over the past few years, marine-based calcium sources with high buffering capacity have been introduced in the feed industry. While these solutions can assist with gastric comfort, they are only necessary for horses that are prone to ulcers. While performance horses have a higher incidence, just 11% of horses not in competition suffer from ulcers1. At Nutrena®, we believe in providing horse owners with choices on how they feed their horses. Since buffering technology is not a one-size-fits-all solution, weve incorporated this technology into two of our performance products within our SafeChoice® line, to let horse owners choose what is right for their horses.

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Determine Your Horses Nutritional Needs

To create an optimal feeding program, you should evaluate your horses current diet, health status and nutritional needs.

All horses need to engage in species-appropriate foraging behaviours, which means they need to be eating for at least 12 hours a day.

In addition to this, they need to meet their nutritional requirements for energy, protein, fat, minerals and vitamins.

Factors that alter your horses nutritional requirements include:

  • Age
  • Body condition
  • Reproductive status

From there, tailor your feeding program to your individual horse, to their housing situation and to which feeds are available in your geographic region.

Analyzing the macro- and micro-nutrients that your horses diet currently provides will help you fill in any potential gaps.

This is best achieved with a hay analysis. Closely examining the feed tags for any complete feeds or ration balancers you provide is also important to assess whether they are the right option for your horse.

At Mad Barn, we design thousands of feeding programs for horses every year and all of our diet plans start with these principles in mind.

If you need help with analyzing your horses current diet, submit your feeding program online and our nutritionists can provide you with a complementary review.

How Do You Treat An Ulcer Naturally

9 Signs That Your Horse Might Have An Ulcer

Your veterinarian may prescribe some sort of acid suppressant drug such as omeprazole and while that does work its by no means a natural remedy. Thankfully there are a number of different natural alternatives to prescribed medication though. Along with treating the ulcer a lot of the alternatives below are also very good natural antacids for horses.

  • Aloe Vera This is one of those miracle plants that has a hundred and one medical and health uses and one of those benefits is in reducing the amount of stomach acid. On top of reducing the amount of acid, studies have shown that it can help to heal an ulcer just as well as omeprazole can.

While it is obviously important to treat the ulcer you also need to understand and treat the cause of it too. Otherwise, the ulcer may have gone but because the cause hasnt itll just come back in time.

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Increase Their Access To Forage

A horse’s stomach is notably acidic, producing acid 24 hours a day. When a horse’s stomach is empty, almost the only content left is acid that will keep increasing until something neutralizes it. A horse in their natural habitat will graze for 16 to 20 hours a day to combat this acid growth, so your horse must have constant access to forage.

Your horse’s chewing movements also produce saliva that aids in buffering stomach acid. As acid continually builds up, forage and saliva combine to maintain healthy stomach acid levels and ease ulcer symptoms.

Ensure your horse consumes a minimum of 1.5% of their body weight in forage. Pasture grass works well. Avoid coarse forage like straw, as it can irritate the stomach and make your horse more uncomfortable. Instead, opt for alfalfa hay that acts as a natural dietary antacid.

What Is The Best Ulcer Supplement For Horses

Research suggests that high-quality probiotics may make a difference in both prevention and treatment of stomach ulcers, likely due to the fact that they support a healthy gut microbial population and also help to maintain a neutral pH.

Probiotics have been shown to heal gastric ulcers in horses whenever they have been experimentally induced, says Franklin.

But where probiotics and other gut supportive nutrients, such as digestive enzymes and prebiotics, really excel is in a long-term management program, especially since they are more affordable than keeping a horse on UlcerGard for an extended period of time .

Improving your feeding regimens, turnout AND adding supplements like potent probiotics that can help stabilize that stomach are the strategies that may help prevent ulcers from returning or developing in the first place, says Franklin.

Treating and managing ulcers takes time and effort, but the results will yield a healthier, happier, and more competitive horse.

Weve got to make sure that we take care of these patients after weve treated the ulcers by having a very mindful strategy of the fact that theyre going to come back unless we make changes to disrupt the cycle and promote complete digestive tract health.

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An Overview Of Equine Ulcers

Equine ulcers are open sores or lesions that can develop throughout the gastrointestinal tract of your horse.

Ulcers most commonly occur in the stomach, hence the name gastric ulcers. The upper squamous region of the stomach is most at risk of ulceration.

This area has the greatest exposure to stomach acids and lacks the defenses present in other parts of the stomach.

Mucous and bicarbonate produced in the glandular region of the stomach act as a buffer to the acidic environment.

The squamous region cannot produce mucous and does not have a similar defensive strategy. Instead, the squamous region relies on food and saliva to form a buffer against acids.

Dietary Management To Reduce The Risks For Developing Gastric Ulcers

How to Feed a Horse with Ulcers

What can you do to help maintain your horses stomach healthy and limit the chances of him having gastric ulcers in the future?

  • Increase the amount of forage in the diet to allow for more chewing time, which will stimulate greater saliva production, which will assist to buffer the stomachs acidity. Do not use straw as the only source of fodder for your animals. If you want to assist your horse ingest hay for longer periods of time, use a hay net with little holes in it. Keep grain quantities under 0.5 percent of the horses body weight at each meal to match the horses normal digestive pattern
  • Feed short, frequent grain and forage meals to mimic the horses natural digestive pattern Reduce your consumption of carbohydrates and instead turn to fat for calories as necessary. Always make sure that there is clean, fresh water and salt available. Preparing the horse for riding by feeding him hay or fodder soon before riding helps to create a mat in his stomach, which helps to decrease acid splashing during activity.

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What Can You 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.

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:

  • Fasting
  • 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

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Adjust Your Horses Eating & Exercise Schedule

Another important step is to adjust the time between meals. This aspect of treatment can pose a real challenge for a lot of equine enthusiasts. Many horse lovers work away from their horses, which makes feeding more frequently than twice a day difficult. Fortunately, today, there are a few feed accessories on the market that make it easier to provide frequent feedings to your horse. This is done by dramatically slowing down how quickly they can consume their feed.

Diagnosing Ulcers In Horses

Equine Gastric Ulcers: How To Treat Them Naturally

There is only one sure way to confirm ulcers, Esophagogastroscopy, or simply “stomach scoping.” No food is to be fed six to eight hours before scoping. A light sedative is given five minutes before the passing of the three-meter scope, similar to passing a stomach tube, down the horse’s oesophagus.

The severity of stomach ulcers is rated in grades from an inflamed but intact epithelium , superficial erosions of the mucosal surface to single superficial erosions of the mucosal surface to multiple actively haemorrhaging hyperaemic .

Depending on the grade, ulcer treatment may be required for your horse.

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Signs Your Horse May Have Stomach Ulcers

There are several symptoms of ulcers in horses, including colic, behavioral changes, and signs of unhealthy skin and hair. In case you have never experienced a horse suffering colic, some of the symptoms are the horse not eating or drinking, standing with front legs and hind legs unusually far apart as if stretching the stomach, laying down and getting up repeatedly as if uncomfortable and looking back at its side while standing. Now, here are the signs your horse may have stomach ulcers.

  • Recurring mild colic: Usually diagnosed by a vet.

  • Poor condition.

  • Behavioral changes.

  • Not eating.

If you see one or more of these signs appearing in your horse, it is time to call a professional and get a thorough diagnosis. Some of these signs would occur much faster than others. For example, your horse may stop eating long before they begin to look like they are in poor condition.

Likewise, a horse refusing to train or being very dull in its movement would occur before a dramatic drop in weight or change in body condition. These are early warning signs, and they are more subtle, requiring daily interaction and observation to notice.

Now that you know what to watch for, you can check daily for these more subtle signs of distress in your horse. Developing the ability to observe these subtle changes early on may prevent the more serious long-term effects and possibly save your horses life. When you are concerned about your horses health, be sure to seek a diagnosis by a veterinarian.

Is Epsom Salt Good For Horses

Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate, is becoming an increasingly common supplement for horses. Magnesium plays an important part in nerve and muscle function, and horses deficient in this important element can show signs of nervousness, wariness, excitability, and muscle tremors. Epsom salts is best known as a laxative.

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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!

How Do I Know If My Horse Has Stomach Ulcers

Dengie Horse Feeds: Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome

The only definitive way to know if a horse has ulcers is to use a gastroscope, but there are a range of symptoms you can look out for including:

  • Losing weight
  • Girthy
  • Poor performance

Anything that puts your horse off form, or makes you think theyre not at their best, could be a warning sign. The only way to truly diagnose this condition is by using a gastroscope.

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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.

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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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

Understanding Ulcer Medication For Horses

Your Horse Has Ulcers... How To Start Healing Them Right Away ...

When it comes to treating Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, several good options exist, but the specific type of drug/medication and length of treatment your veterinarian prescribes will likely depend on the exact location in the stomach, as well as the severity of ulceration.

Latsons business partner, equine internal medicine veterinary specialist, Dr. Robert Franklin, explains that the horses stomach is divided into two halves: the top, which is called non-glandular and the bottom, referred to as glandular.

The non-glandular region is typically the area affected by ulceration, says Franklin. This region typically responds well to treatment.

GastroGard and UlcerGard, which both contain the active ingredient omeprazole, are the two main drugs veterinarians tend to use for non-glandular ulcers.

They work about 80% of the time in a 4-week treatment period, notes Franklin.

However, Franklin goes on to explain that a glandular ulcer does not heal nearly as easily and doesn’t always respond to the typical treatments, so veterinarians often have to rely on a different strategy when treating these types of ulcers.

Weve used sucralfate in combination with omeprazole to manage glandular ulcers. Some more recent studies have shown that another drug called misoprostol is likely the best treatment for this type.

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