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Ulcers in Horses

What are ulcers and their causes in horses?

An ulcer in horses and foals is a medical condition that is common. In estimation around 50% of foals and 1/3 of horses are stall bound have some form of mild ulcers. With regards to race horses up to 90% can experience ulcers and 60% of show horses can also develop mid to high level ulcer types. An ulcer is often a condition also commonly called equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) or equine gastric ulcer disease (EGUD).

Ulcers caused in horses vary as there can be many different factors that can increase the risks of a horse developing an ulcer. When horses do not eat, this allows a higher risk of stomach acids to build up and cause damage including ulcers. The type of food a horse eats can play a major part in the risk of developing ulcers. Food higher in calcium or lower in concentrates lower the risk of getting an ulcer.

Other ulcers causes can include chronic use of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) medications such as Bute and Banamine. These types of medications can decrease the making of a natural chemical caused PGE2. When PGE2 is decreased, acid levels naturally become high. High acid levels are a contributing factor to the development of ulcers. Additionally, the amount of exercise that a horse receives can also be a caused a factor of developing ulcers.

As common as ulcers may be, these can still cause concern for caretakers. Uncertainties on what the symptoms are or what treatment may be available can often lead to similar questions like those answered below by Experts.

What are ulcer symptoms in horses?

There are ulcer symptoms that horses can begin to show such as eating slow or not eating normally. Some horses can soak their food to alleviate the discomfort. Weight loss, poor coat quality, or becoming irritable because of discomfort or pain is also other ulcer symptoms.

Is repeated choking related to a stomach ulcer?

Repeated choking may not be caused by stomach ulcers, however there could be a relationship between the choking and different ulcer types. Esophageal Ulcers can often be the result in chronic choking. When there is an obstruction n the esophagus that remains for a long period of time, ulceration can occur. Once the esophageal ulcer heals, the esophagus is narrower which can often lead to more choking and can even become cyclic. Stomach ulcers can develop as a result from the stress caused from the cyclic process of choking and ulceration of the esophagus. There is however certain types of horses that are more prone to choking such as those who are older, missing teeth or have dental disorders that make it difficult to chew correctly.

Can a two month old foal have ulcers?

Adult horses and even two month foals can develop ulcers. Foals that are ill or who are experiencing stress can be prone to developing ulcers quickly. These ulcers can become severe. Ulcer symptoms in foals can include teeth grinding, excessive saliva, poor eating or colicky behavior.

What less expensive alternatives are there rather than keeping a horse on Gastrogard for ulcers?

Gastrogard can become expensive, however after it is used and the ulcer has healed, the horse can be taken off the medication. Treatment following Gastrogard can include a less expensive alternative such as soaking the grain in corn oil or canola oil. One half cup of soaked grain can be given twice a day. This can help with ulcer prevention as well. A portion of Gastrograd medication (1/4 of normal dose) can also be used in many situations when stressful events are expected. Additionally, ranitidine tablets can also be used which are considered less expensive than Gastrogard.

Ulcer information can be beneficial when faced with questions or concerns about ulcers in horses. Experts can help ease concerns about ulcer prognosis or ulcer complications. Get the answers to your concerns quickly by asking an Expert today.
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