Unfortunately, ulcers are a common problem in horses. Almost 50 to 90 percent of horses suffer from ulcers in their lifetime. Ulcers are common in all types of horses but are more common in performance horses, with a ratio of over 90 percent in thoroughbred horses and 70 percent in endurance horses.
Being a horse rider or owner, it is important to know the signs of ulcers in horses because they cause extreme discomfort for your horse and rarely heal on their own.
In fact, according to research, only 4-10 percent of ulcers in horses heal without treatment.
All horse owners must know the signs of ulcers in horses, their types, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. If you know this problem better, you will be able to take better care of your horse.
Types of Horse Ulcers
There are different types of ulcers in horses, and the most common types are:
- Gastric ulcers;
- Hindgut ulcers;
- Mouth ulcers.
Gastric Ulcers In Horses
Gastric ulcers are one of the common ulcers in horses and can seriously affect your horse’s health. Stomach ulcers in horses are also known as equine gastric ulcer syndrome. But it is very difficult to diagnose this type of ulcer, and only a veterinarian can help you with the diagnosis. Gastric ulcers are defined according to the different regions of the stomachs
Equine Squamous Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (ESGUS):
The other type of ulcer is squamous gastric ulcer syndrome. ESGUS lesions can affect the upper third of the stomach. According to research, ESGUS is more common than EGGUS. The squamous region is more susceptible to damage as it lacks a protective mechanism. Most horses showing the equine gastric ulcer syndrome sign are more prone to ESGUS.
Equine Glandular Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGGUS):
Gastric glandular ulcers are less common in horses and occur in the lower stomach. EGGUS is less common because the glandular lining present can withstand the severity of acids, and the area is less susceptible to injury. EGGUS is more common in racehorses than endurance horses.
Hindgut Ulcers In Horses
Colon or hindgut ulcers go hand in hand, and the prevalence rate is very high in nearly 54% of racehorses. Hindgut ulcers are difficult to diagnose but not impossible, and there are a variety of causes behind this problem, such as parasite load, overuse of medications, and hindgut acidosis. Most of the clinical signs of ulcers of the large intestine are similar to those of gastric ulcers.
Mouth Ulcers In Horses
Oral ulcers occur in horses due to a variety of reasons and cause some bad effects on their health. In horses, the most common lesions that will appear are blisters to form in the mouth on the tongue, dental pad, and lips. These ulcers swell and burst, resulting in raw tissue that will cause immense pain, and the infected horse will refuse to drink or eat.
Ulcers Symptoms in Horses
At the onset of ulceration, most infected horses will show no clinical sand will also appear healthy. But later, the common ulcers symptoms in horses that appear are:
- Loss of appetite;
- Attitude changes;
- Decreased performance;
- Poor body condition;
- Reluctance to train;
- Weight loss;
- Poor hair coat;
- Low-grade colic.
In severe conditions, the most common signs of ulcers in horses that appear are teeth grinding and colic.
In some conditions, horses lie on their backs to relieve severe gastric ulcers. Other horses will walk away from the food after receiving the first bite.
In foals, clinical signs of ulcers include intermittent colic immediately after feeding or nursing, diarrhea, decreased lactation, poor appetite, teeth grinding, pot-bellied appearance, and excessive salivation.
Note that when the foal begins to show clinical signs of ulcers, it means that he is suffering from severe ulcers and should be treated immediately.
Diagnosis of Ulcers in Horses
Gastric ulcers can be easily diagnosed by gastroscopy or endoscopy, which means placing an endoscope in the stomach and looking at the stomach’s surface. This procedure is easy to perform because it involves minimal effort and allows a complete evaluation of the stomach, esophagus, and small intestine.
Treatment for Horse Ulcers
There are different combinations of drugs that are used to treat ulcers in horses.
Veterinarians can prescribe short-term and long-term medications, and it all depends on whether your horse has ESGUS or EGGUS ulcers.
Typically, your vet will recommend omeprazole because it is the only FDA-approved treatment for ulcers. Omeprazole works with an efficiency of almost 80 percent and works by suppressing acid production. Some vets prescribe omeprazole in higher doses, as it helps suppress gastric acid in the squamous area.
Your vet will also prescribe a mucous protector. These protectors increase mucous production and provide a mucosa that acts as a protective layer and prevents the horse’s stomach from strong acids.
Some vets will also prescribe some digestive supplements to provide energy and support for your horse to recover and heal from ulcers.
These supplements can also provide beneficial bacteria to your horse.
How to Prevent Ulcers in Horses?
As you know, prevention is better than cure; the same goes for ulcers. Prevention is the core part of your horse’s daily life. Most of the changes that are included in your horse’s daily routine are dietary changes. The best changes that can be made to the horse’s daily routine are:
- Offer your horse quality hay or forage throughout the day;
- Provide alfalfa as it can buffer stomach acids;
- Reduce the intake of grain-based feed;
- Do not eat large meals, but eat small meals throughout the day;
- Use special feeders to promote slow feeding in horses;
- Provide supplements that help strengthen and repair the intestinal wall;
- Boost your horse’s immunity to promote recovery on its own;
- Introduce digestive supplements to their daily diet.
Gastric ulcers are one of the most common conditions in horses. Monitor their eating habits from a young life, while keeping your eye on signs of ulcers in horses to protect them.
Good management along with better digestive health can ensure the good health of your horse.
You can manage your horse’s digestive health with natural supplements, which contain such health improving ingredients as fluvic and humic acids. You don’t have to look far for them. Find out more about Black Balance supplements by Medrego.
It is also important to stay in contact with your vet and learn how to manage your horse’s digestive system better.