Every horse owner is familiar with the prevalence of equine digestive ulcers. You need to keep in mind that horses are born as herbivores which only mean that they are genuine vegetarians. The anatomy and physiology of a horse’s digestive system is completely different from that of a human. They eat small meals frequently and their stomachs usually do not stretch until full capacity.
Ulcers in horses occur when production of gastric acid overwhelms the stomach’s protective factors. It has already been established that in humans, these ulcers are caused by bacteria but in horses, this correlation has not been found. Instead, situations which allow gastric acid to surpass protective mechanisms of the stomach, like frequent, high-grain meals which leaves the horse’s stomach empty for most of the time, may already be an opportunity for the stomach lining to get damaged from too much gastric acid exposure. In horses bred for sports and racing, infrequent, low-roughage feeds, intensive training programs, infrequent turnout, and chronic NSAID use are strong contributing factors for equine digestive ulcers.
Simple Ways to Manage Horse Ulcers
- The first thing you can do is to have your horse diagnosed through a technique known as scoping. This process is usually performed by your veterinarian, where a camera is inserted inside the horse’s stomach to check for presence and severity of the ulcers.
- Feed your horse/s routinely and keeping in mind that, higher amounts of roughage is better. If allowing your horse to graze freely is impractical, just keep them on small, frequent feeding. Limit grain meals on their diet. Incorporating supplements such as probiotics can help enhance the process of food digestion.
- Allow subtle changes to happen. If you have to change your horse’s diet or exercise program, do not do it abruptly. Give your horse time to adjust to the changes. Abrupt changes can stress out your horses consequently increasing the production of gastric acid.
- If possible, limit the use of NSAID.
- Horses are stressed when they are lonely so it helps if you give them some company. Keeping a horse confined to a stall is stressful for them. It’s not necessary to have another horse to serve as company; other farm animals would suffice.
When all of the aforementioned seems to be nearly impossible to observe, pharmaceutical intervention may be required especially for those horses that exhibit serious clinical signs such as poor appetite, poor performance, and moody disposition. This intervention is aimed at reducing the acid level inside the horse’s stomach allowing ulcers to heal. For prevention and treatment of equine digestive ulcers, AbPrazole is a trusted equine Omeprazole, fast becoming the treatment of choice in the horse industry.