Preventing Gastric Ulcers In Horses
👨🏻🔬🔬🐴 One of the most commonly recognised digestive issues in horses are Gastric ulcers (ulceration of the stomach lining).
🤔 In fact, nearly all performance horses will exhibit gastric ulcers at some point in their career.
🔎💢Ulcers are commonly found in the top half of the equine stomach which has a non-protected squamous lining.
The bottom half of the equine stomach secretes acid continuously even if the stomach contents is empty, however it is protected by a glandular lining.
🚨The risk of ulcers is higher in the following:
🔺Stomach lining damage –
The unprotected lining of the equine stomach can be protected by a steady supply of saliva and forage.
The modern feeding practices of one or two large meals per day leaves the stomach empty for extended periods, increasing the risk of ulcer development.
🏇🏻Exercise can increase the risk of the acid ‘splash’ onto the upper unprotected layer.
Particularly evident with horses in heavy work where the stomach moves abruptly against the diaphragm.
The equine stomach capacity is only 7-15 litres, it is naturally designed to digest a steady stream of forage throughout the day.
Therefore free choice forage is one of the main keys to lowering ulcer risk.
Chewing creates saliva which acts as a natural buffer (pH average 7.5) and choosing a low sugar and starch grassy hay e.g Rhodes Grass will provide good fibre levels for digestion and stimulate salvia production.
🌿A fibre based diet is best suited for a horse, whereby high-starch grains should be avoided as they increase the production of gastrin, a hormone that stimulates gastric acid production.
🔺Damage of the stomach lining due to parasites –
Bot infection has also been associated with gastric ulcers.
The consumption of the eggs of botflies is common by horses and the larvae can exist in the stomach and create pits. These pits can be irritated by acid or bacteria which can lead to ulcers.
📖In recent studies, it has been shown that larvae are becoming more resistant to anti-parasitic drugs.
Treatment with oral wormers, is a simple and effective way to control bots.
🔺Stomach lining compromised due to bacteria –
📖Recently studies have shown that certain bacteria cause ulcers in humans and that it is hypothesised this may be one of the causes of ulcers in horses.
👨⚕️Prof B.Marshall showed that the presence of the bacteria Helicobacter causes inflammation or some irritation in the lining of the stomach.
🔺Damage of the stomach lining due to drug use –
💊The overuse of ‘Bute’ (phenylbutazone) and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) is known to disrupt the protective layer and cause ulcers. Short term use is recommended to return to normal health, then seek natural alternatives that treat the cause not the symptoms of the condition.
🔺Be careful with vet treatments such as omeprazole (Ulcerguard) – which turn down the acid pumps. Although they do have their place in the short term, long term stomach acid suppression can affect protein digestion and risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
📖 Studies have shown that the only way to definitively diagnose ulcers is to perform a complete gastroscopic examination.🔬
The common symptoms of Ulcers can be:
▫️Body condition decline
▫️Sensitivity in the flank area
▪️Unwillingness to work
▫️Windsucking or weaving
🌱🐴By feeding horses according to their natural physiology, and by taking steps to protect and promote overall digestive health, we can reduce the risk of gastric ulcers.
🖋Written by Bryan Meggitt (BMedSc. PGCrtMedSc.)
Manager and Co-founder of CEN – Complete Equine Nutrition
👨🏻🔬Bryan is a scientist in pathology and equine nutrition educator through the nutrition principles of Dr Juliet Getty and Dr Eleanor Kellon.
Bryan is passionate about improving equine health through proper natural nutrition according to science.
He believes a horse should be fed according to their physiology, and nutrition is absolutely fundamental for optimum health and vital to enhance performance. 💪🏻🐴😄
💞How can CEN help?🙋🏻♂️🙋🏼♀️🙋🏼♂️🙋🏻♀️ Leave a comment or question you would like answered. 😄
🔹CEN – Complete Formula Feed
The perfect daily feed for all horse types. Helps promote good digestive health, lowering the risk of ulcers.
High fibre, low starch, vitamin and mineral supplement + live probiotics and prebiotics.
💎 CEN Oil – High Omega 3 – Promotes anti-inflammatory conditions on a daily basis, lowers the risk of ulcers and helps many body systems function more efficiently and effectively.
Essential for overall health particularly beneficial for brain, nerve and muscle function, the immune system, coat/skin, joints and hooves.
🔸CEN XtraBalance which is designed for horses who have lost condition, undergoing stress (e.g long transport) or recovering from illness. Perfect for ulcer prone horses.
It contains organic humates which enhance nutrient absorption.
Plus live probiotics, prebiotics and mycosorbA+ toxin binder. Very good for digestive and overall health.