Equine Ulcers: Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis
Has the behavior of your horse suddenly changed?
Not eating as well, lethargic, reluctance to work under saddle, and just darn right cranky. Oh and lets not forget being sensitive to brushing or saddling. Does this sound familiar? Maybe your horse has ulcers…you’ve heard about ulcers, but how do you know that your horse has them and what do you do about it?
Equine ulcer relief doesn’t really have to be difficult or expensive, there are a few things that you can try that are easy and don’t require your veterinarian to rush out.
Horses get ulcers for a variety of reasons, but it has been determined that most horses used to perform, race or train already have them. The unnatural way we keep horses like being kept in stalls, feeding at irregular times v 24/7 grazing, giving feed that is too high in sugars and starches, and not allowing free choice hay are some of the reasons horses already have ulcers. Then add the stress of trailering, training, lack of turnout or improper turnout, and competition...it shouldn't come as a surprise that many of them suffer from ulcers.
Symptoms of Ulcer
- Discomfort between meals
- Stomach pain
- Bloating and burning in stomach
- Poor performance
- Unexpected weight loss
- Pain in back
The cause of ulcers
The most common cause of ulcers is thought to be stress or certain foods, but researchers found that ulcers are also caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The types of ulcers
Basically there are two types of ulcers:
- Foregut ulcer
- Hindgut ulcer
Foregut ulcers (gastric) are in your horse's stomach while hind gut ulcers (colonic) are in the horse's colon. A horse may have one type of ulcer, or both. The symptoms really are pretty much alike, but how can you tell if your horse has one over another?
Treatment for ulcers
The process is really quite simple. Omeprazole is usually the first step. Omeprazole can be purchased online without a prescription and it is used for foregut ulcers. You can treat your horse with it for 3-4 days and if the symptoms subside, then you can assume that your horse had foregut ulcers. If the symptoms do not subside, you should assume an ulcer in your horse's hindgut as Omeprazole doesn't work for them.
If you determine that the horse is suffering from hindgut ulcers, a product called Sucralfate can also be purchased online for treating the condition. Owners might choose to treat both fore and hindgut ulcers simultaneously, which is an entirely possible scenario.