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Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in Horses: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Low pH in a horse's stomach and a few other factors can lead to Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in equines. Here, our Ocala veterinarians discuss Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in horses, what the symptoms are and what treatment options are available.

What Are Gastric Ulcers?

Ulcers (open wounds and soft tissue thinning) on the stomach are referred to as gastric ulcers. Gastric ulcers are fairly common in horses, particularly athletic ones.

Horses have smaller stomachs relative to their size, so they will often eat less but more frequently throughout the day. For horses that naturally graze this also means that their body will produce a steady supply of gastric acid to help with digestion although the feed and saliva will dilute this acid.

What Are The Causes of Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in Horses?

Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in horses is generally caused by an imbalance between mucosal aggressive and protective factors.

The length of time that the horse experiences acid exposure will determine the severity of this condition. Ulcers that occur in the glandular mucosa of horses are typically caused by a disruption of blood flow and decreased mucus and bicarbonate secretion.

If a horse has been fasting or gone through long periods without eating it will be more likely to experience gastric ulcer syndrome along with foals that nurse or feed infrequently.

What Are The Symptoms Of Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in Horses?

Below are some common signs of gastric ulcers in horses.

  • Poor appetite
  • Dullness
  • Attitude changes
  • Decreased performance
  • Reluctance to train
  • Poor body condition
  • Poor hair coat
  • Weight loss
  • Low-grade colic
  • Girthiness

Once you notice these symptoms in your adult horse or foal (along with gum recession and excessive suckling), the condition is likely already advanced. Seek veterinary attention immediately in this case.

How Can Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in Horses be Treated?

There are a variety of methods that have been used for the treatment and prevention of gastric ulcers in horses and foals. When it comes to medication, there is a paste that needs to be administered once daily for 28 days to treat gastric ulcer syndrome in horses. One of the added benefits of this medication is that it can be used for the prevention of the recurrence of gastric ulcers when administered at a half dose.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you notice symptoms of gastric ulcer syndrome in your horse, contact our Ocala vets right away.

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