Ulcer Cause In Horses

🔺Q/ How do ulcer medications (e.g Ulcerguard) work?
🔻A/ They are turn down/block acid production in the hores’s stomach. (proton pump inhibitor)

🔺Q/ Is acid in the horse’s stomach there for a reason?
🔻A/ Yes it is vital for protein digestion and absorption of key vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
The acid in the stomach is also vital as a barrier against micro-organisms and parasites in the environment entering further down the digestive system.

🔺Q/ Can long term use of ulcer medication be risky?
🔻A/ Evidence from human research that long term use of Omeprazole impacts calcium absorption, which has been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis where bones become weak and there is the risk of fracture.
Short term use would be lower this risk.

🤔 With the prevalence to treat ulcers with medications such as Omeprazole (Ulcerguard), CEN has developed a unique natural product that helps heal and protect the stomach, working with the physiology of the horse, rather than against it.
🔎 While short term use of ulcer medications is warranted to lessen the severity of ulcers,
CEN Ulcer Protect is a long term option, which can be used in conjunction with medication to aid in the healing and then help protect thereafter.

✳️ CEN Ulcer Protect is a unique natural formulation which may help reduce, heal and protect the gut from the incidence of ulcers.
Supports healthy gut lining
May assist in healing ulcers
May assist in the elimination of ulcer formation in the stomach
▶️More information:
💢 Ulcers are an unfortunate common side effect for nearly every performance horse. 🏇🏻

✳️ CEN Ulcer Protect was developed due to our industry observations of widespread use of ulcer medication, particularly in performance stables.
Omeprazole (Ulcerguard) is used to treat and prevent ulcers by blocking acid production (proton pump inhibitor), excessive use can negatively affect the important role stomach acid plays in digestion.
There is evidence from human research that long term use of Omeprazole impacts calcium absorption, which has been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis where bones become weak and there is the risk of fracture. This has caused some nutritionists and researchers in equine nutrition to question the long term use of Omeprazole in horses.
👩🏼‍⚕️🔬 Dr. Juliet Getty – internationally respected independent equine nutritionist, believes that concerns are reasonable because what happens in a horse’s stomach is not that different from human digestion.
“What happens in humans is that these medications not only reduce protein digestion, but they also inhibit the absorption of key minerals and vitamins, such as magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12,” Getty said.
👨🏻‍⚕️🔬 Dr. Joe Pagan (Kentucky Equine Research president) similarly was concerned how Omeprazole’s suppression of digestive acid in the horse’s stomach affects digestion.
Pagan conducted a digestion trial with four idle Thoroughbreds that evaluated how well the horses were able to digest two sources of calcium (BMC and limestone) with and without two weeks of Omeprazole administration at the recommended therapeutic dose (4 mg/kg per day).
“The source of calcium and the Omeprazole both significantly affected calcium digestibility,” Pagan said.
👨🏻‍⚕️🔬 Pagan also found that serum gastrin was doubled in the horses on Omeprazole. Gastrin is a hormone produced by the stomach to stimulate gastric-acid secretion.
“In studies with other animals and humans, increased gastrin has also led to increases in parathyroid hormone [PTH] production, and there was a trend toward increased PTH in this study,” Pagan said. “PTH causes the body to pull calcium from the skeleton to maintain blood calcium, which is essential to support muscle and nervous function. Chronically elevated PTH may lead to osteoporosis, or holes in the bone that reduce bone strength and mass.
▶️ Long-term Omeprazole use combined with other factors such as high-oxalate pastures may compromise calcium balance, which is of special concern due to its vital role in skeletal health.
🌱🐴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.
See below to learn more about Ulcers in horses.

Further Ulcer Information:
👨🏻‍🔬🔬🐴 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:
▪️Attitude change
▫️Body condition decline
▪️Poor appetite
▫️Poor performance
▪️Low energy
▫️Sensitivity in the flank area
▪️Unwillingness to work
▫️Windsucking or weaving
Any questions? Please ask in the comments below👇🏻
🖊Written by Bryan Meggitt (BMedSc. GCrtMedSc.)
Manager and Co-founder of CEN – Complete Equine Nutrition
👨🏻‍🔬Bryan is a scientist 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, to achieve optimum health and enhance performance.
More articles at: https://cennutrition.com.au/blog/