Understanding More About Equine Gastric Ulcers?

 Understanding More About Equine Gastric Ulcers?

Image Source: Pexels

When you first learned about equine gastric ulcers, you probably heard them called something else altogether. You may have thought you were dealing with ulcers in your horse’s stomach, and that was part of the problem. Ulcers happen in the stomach, right? Not necessarily. We now know that there are two types of gastric ulcers that affect horses—gastric and duodenal (or duodenitis)—but they’re not the same kind of ulcer as the kind that affects humans. And they can be managed in different ways than human ulcers are.

What Are Equine Gastric Ulcers?

Equine gastric ulcers are caused by the infection of the stomach lining, which can be referred to as gastric ulcers. Bacteria like Helicobacter pylori and Streptococcus equi are mostly responsible for such infections. Gastric ulcers in horses are common and are often diagnosed because they cause many health problems like loss of appetite, changes in behaviour, weight loss and colic symptoms. Hence, it becomes important to know about their signs and treatment options in order to cure them before they can cause more harm to the horse’s health condition.

What Causes Equine Gastric Ulcers?

The most important thing to keep in mind is that there are several factors that can play a role in causing or exacerbating an equine gastric ulcer. These include but are not limited to: diet, digestive function and stress, mental and physical activity, environment, genetics and conformation (physical build). Each horse has a unique situation, and it is important for each owner to realize their individual horse’s specific needs. Some of these needs may be able to be met through improving diet; others may require a veterinarian. 

However, many other conditions can cause these symptoms, so other diagnostic tests may be needed to help pinpoint the cause of gastric ulceration. In fact, it’s very common for horses suffering from gastric ulcers also to have a concurrent stomach infection or parasite infestation. For example, acid-secreting bacteria like Helicobacter pylori can lower stomach pH levels and stimulate acid secretion by parietal cells of glands in equine stomachs. Both conditions can lead to erosion of tissue and the formation of ulcers.

Equine gastric ulcers
Image Source: Pexels

How Do You Diagnose Equine Gastric Ulcers?

The best way to diagnose gastric ulcers is through endoscopy. During endoscopy, a scope is inserted into your horse’s stomach. Your veterinarian will look for signs of inflammation and ulceration while also taking biopsies to test in a lab. 

Treatment For Equine Gastric Ulcers

While there is no known cure for equine gastric ulcers, there are a few approaches your veterinarian can take in order to reduce symptoms and manage your horse’s condition. Anti-inflammatory medications, anti-diarrheal agents, analgesics, changes in diet and management strategies may be useful in managing stomach ulceration. While some cases of gastric ulceration may be unavoidable, they can often be prevented by avoiding stressful situations such as weaning or deworming procedures that require multiple injections over time. It’s important to note that if an underlying cause cannot be identified or treated successfully, it is likely that your horse will continue to experience recurrent bouts of gastric ulceration.

Preventing Equine Gastric Ulcers

Keeping your horse’s digestive system healthy requires maintaining a balanced diet, knowing when to change feeds and carefully observing his behaviour. According to experts, another effective way to prevent gastric ulcers in horses is to supplement your horse’s diet with vitamin E. Vitamin E is the best anti-ulcerative agent. It’s also important not to feed your horse heavy food sources of iron and copper, such as soybean meal and molasses, because they can trigger a gastric ulcer outbreak. High-energy diets are also known triggers for equine gastric ulcers, which should be limited to 10 per cent of total daily calories for active horses or 5 per cent for non-active horses.

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