Two Types Of Ulcers In Horses And How To Treat Them
As a horse lover, you understand how essential it is to keep your horse in the best possible condition. One of the keys to achieving good horse health is learning more about a common cause of poor condition - ulcers.
In this article we will explore the types of ulcers in horses and treating ulcers in horses.
Horse ulcers are a common ailment that can be caused by a variety of things, including poor nutrition, lack of exercise, or even stress. It is important to take care of your horse’s health so they can be healthy and perform at their best.
Types of ulcers in horses
Understanding the different types of equine ulcers can be confusing and overwhelming.
The two main types of ulcers in horses are gastric ulcers and ulcers of the hindgut.
In simple terms, gastric ulcers are found in the horse's stomach while hindgut ulcers are found in the hindgut (or specifically the colon & cecum).
Let's break it down further...
1. What are Gastric Ulcers?
Equine gastric ulcers are lesions that develop in the stomach lining. It is estimated that 90% of horses will experience gastric ulcers during their lifetime.
Gastric ulcers are defined according to the different regions of the stomachs.
Gastric ulcers typically occur in either the squamous / non glandular region, the upper portion of the stomach, or the glandular region—the lower portion of the stomach. A pyloric ulcer occurs at the junction of the small intestine and lower stomach.
A veterinarian can assist you in making an accurate diagnosis for the type of ulcer with an endoscope.
Common causes of Gastric Ulcers
The cause of gastric ulcers is often due to stress and limited free-choice access to pasture and hay. A horse's stomach is designed for continuous eating.
Gastric Ulcer Symptoms
The majority of horses with ulcers show no clinical symptoms at the beginning and appear healthy. Given the main types of equine ulcers include similar symptoms, it can be very difficult to determine what type of ulcer your horse is suffering without undertaking a scope .
When gastric ulcers develop, the following symptoms are typical:
- loss of appetite
- altered attitude
- decreased performance
- poor physical condition
- resistance to training
- poor hair coat
- low-grade colic
Treatment of Gastric Ulcers
There are different combinations of medications that are used for treating ulcers in horses.
It all depends on whether your horse has ulcers of the upper or lower stomach.
Squamous / Non Glandular
Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor used for treating ulcers in horses with squamous / non glandular area.
Omeprazole lowers stomach acid production, restoring the stomach's pH equilibrium and decreasing the amount of acid produced.
Pyloric / Glandular
Omeprazole alone will not heal ulcers of the lower stomach. Treatment with both omeprazole and sucralfate is required. Sucralfate works by forming a coating that protects the ulcerated tissue, allowing the omeprazole to heal the ulcer.
2. What are Hindgut Ulcers?
A hindgut ulcer is a depression of the lining of the colon also referred to as a colonic ulcer.
Up to 60% of horses are known to be affected by hindgut ulcers, with performance horses having a higher percentage of colonic ulceration.
To diagnose colonic ulcers, vets may do blood work or perform an ultrasound. The ultrasound will focus on the horse's right side in an effort to “picture” the right dorsal colon.
Types of ulcers that occur in the hindgut are colonic ulcers, hindgut acidosis and right dorsal colitis.
Common causes of Hindgut Ulcers
There are multiple causes behind this problem, such as parasite load, excess hay, overuse of anti-inflammatories and a diet high in starch and sugar making digestion difficult.
Hindgut Ulcer Symptoms
Despite the fact that certain symptoms may resemble those of stomach ulcers, there are frequently distinct indications:
- colic bouts
- repetitive actions like weaving and cribbing
- reluctance to grooming
- difficult in bending right, gathering, and extending is difficult.
- diarrhea, runny manure of inner thighs
Treatment of Hindgut Ulcers
Omeprazole is a medication that is used to treat gastric ulcers. It is not effective in treating hindgut ulcers. Sucralfate is a medication that is used to treat the hindgut. It works by attaching to the mucosal lining of the colon, which helps protect from further injury. Treating ulcers in horses with sucralfate and a probiotic will help restore good bacteria in the horses gut and aid digestion.
Read more: the full rundown on the symptoms, causes and treatments of hindgut ulcers.
Prevention of Ulcers
Know the potential ulcer triggers! Managing a balanced diet of pellets, quality hay v highly sugared starchy grains will assist in preventing ulcers. Whilst we cannot totally remove stress, we can try to balance as best we can.
It is our responsibility as horse owners to manage stress levels and administer the best ulcer treatment and preventive medication when necessary.