The term equine gastric ulcers describes the erosion of the horse’s stomach lining, due to a prolonged exposure to the acid produced by the stomach. Sadly gastric ulcers are considered common problem for horse’s, particularly competition horses, although they can be suffered by horse of all ages and types, particularly if they have limited access to forage.
Gastric ulcers spans a wide spectrum of severity classified under a 4-point scoring system with the least severe seeing the inflammation of the stomach lining to the most serious causing widespread erosion and bleeding tissue. In extreme circumstances the condition develops to such an extent that perforation of the stomach can occur, and this can be fatal.
So how do horses get gastric ulcers?
In a natural environment horse’s and ponies can graze for up to 16hr a day and the process of consuming this forage results in the acidity of the stomach being reduced by the bicarbonate in the saliva which is produced as the horse chews. When stabled if the horse is provided by ample hay or haylage this natural preventative process is continued, the problem arises if equines are fed diets which are high in concentrate feed alongside limited access to forage such as grass and hay resulting in an increase in the acidity of the stomach. Stress can also be a factor.
Symptoms of Gastric Ulcers and Treatment
- Weight loss
- Low grade colic
- Decreased performance
- Attitude change; for example not wanting to be tacked up.
Gastric ulcers are generally diagnosed via an endoscope allowing veterinarians to view the lining of the stomach and the treatment often requires a course of the special medicine GastroGuard.
Going forwards horse owners should offer their equine suffering with gastric ulcers the following to maximise their recovery and limit the risk of further gastric ulcers; continual access to forage, reduced stress, reduction of concentrate feed and maximum turn out. In addition it may be beneficial to give them a Probiotic for Horses supplement. Horse Probiotics improve digestion and maximise the absorption ok key nutrients.
Good quality, low-sugar forage should form the largest part of a horse’s diet, but it is also important to make sure he is receiving all the vitamins and minerals he needs, as a deficiency or imbalance will quickly impact on the system. Equine Probiotics will really help the horse effectively benefit from these vitamins and minerals.
Nutri-Gut from Scientific Nutritional Products is a unique blend of Pre and Probiotic for Horses ingredients carefully chosen to enhance the “good bacteria” population of your horse’s digestive system and suppress the harmful types. It can be fed every day for all round good health or at times when digestive upset is likely such as when travelling, competing or suffering from illness.
If you think your horse or pony may be suffering from gastric ulcers it is vital that you contact a veterinarian but post treatment Nutri-Gut (Horse Digestive Supplement) may offer an additional beneficial tool, alongside also promoting excellent digestive health for all equines.
To find out more about Nutri-Gut visit the website www.horsesupplementsdirect.co.uk or Tel: 01377 254900 or FREEPHONE: 0800 032 7774 to speak to our nutritionist Peter Fishpool.