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Could your horse have gastric ulcers?

Gastric ulcers affect over 50% of horses1 and can affect any horse at any age.  There are two forms of equine gastric ulcers; squamous ulcers and glandular ulcers.  These two forms of the disease relate to the two regions of the equine stomach.

 

Squamous ulcers

The lighter pink, squamous region of the equine stomach sits above the darker pink, acid-producing glandular region.  In normal circumstances it does not come into contact with gastric acid and therefore has no natural defences against the erosive effects of the acid.

In some circumstances the squamous region does come into contact with gastric acid.  Repeated or prolonged exposure results in the formation of squamous ulcers1.

 

Glandular ulcers

The underlying cause of glandular ulcers is not well understood and is the focus of much study.  They are found in the darker pink, glandular region of the stomach.  The glandular region is responsible for the production of gastric acid and therefore has natural defences in place to protect the stomach wall from any damage caused by acid.   It is thought that glandular ulcers result from a breakdown in these natural defences, therefore making the stomach lining more susceptible to the erosive effects of gastric acid1.

 

Do you know the signs?

Although over 50% of horses1 suffer from gastric ulcers, many horses show only very subtle signs.  These signs are often difficult to spot and can include any of the following1:

  • Poor performance
  • Change in behaviour
  • reduced appetite
  • Pain on girth tightening
  • Poor body condition
  • Weight loss
  • Colic

 

Which horses have an increased risk of gastric ulcers?

Several risk factors have been shown to increase the likelihood of equine gastric ulcers:

  • Change of routine
  • Intense work2
  • Intermittent access to water1
  • Isolation1
  • Erratic feeding and feeding ‘concentrates’1
  • Travelling3
  • Box rest

If your horse experiences any of the factors above, any changes you can make to reduce the impact of these will help reduce their risk of developing gastric ulcers.  However, there are some circumstances where one or more of the risk factors are unavoidable, for example travelling to competitions.  In these situations please call us to discuss preventative treatments that may be suitable.

What to do if you suspect your horse could have a gastric ulcer.

If you’re worried about gastric ulcers in your horse, please phone us to discuss.

  1. Sykes BW, et al. ECEIM Consensus Statement – EGUS in Adult Horses. J Vet Intern Med 2015; 29: 1288-1299.
  2. Lorenzo-Figueras M et al. Effects of exercise on gastric volume and pH in the proximal portion of the stomach of horses. AVJR 2002; 63(11): 1481-1487
  3. McClure SR et al. Gastric ulcer development in horses in a simulated show or training environment. JAVMA 2005; Vol 227 (5): 775-777

 

 

 

Hawkhurst Evening Talk

Thank you to everyone who came along to our Milbourn Equine evening talk at Bodiam International Arena last Wednesday.

Merial gave an informative talk about the causes of gastric ulcers, while Dengie Horse Feeds gave an entertaining talk regarding nutrition. Our vet Howard finished off the evening with a brief summary of what you should be keeping stocked up in your first aid kit.

Our raffle also raised £68. We hope you enjoyed it and keep an eye out for details of our next one in the Spring.

Milbourn Equine Gastroscope Clinics

Do you suspect your horse is suffering from gastric ulcers?
Gastric ulcerations are very common, recent studies have shown up to 98% of racehorses and up to 53% of leisure horses are affected.

Symptoms are often vague and can include:

• Poor performance
• Changes in behaviour
• Weight loss/ failure to maintain condition
• Colic
• Girthing pain
• Poor coat condition

Once diagnosed gastric ulcers can be treated quickly and effectively with medication and horses usually return to their former level of performance. Milbourn Equine offer twice monthly gastroscope clinics at Benenden and Sevington, where you can book in to bring your horse along for a gastroscope at a reduced price.

Scoping in your yard is also available by appointment – please ring for details

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Benenden Gastroscope Dates

18th November 2015

16th December 2015

20th January 2016

17th February 2016

Gastroscope Clinics

Do you suspect your horse is suffering from gastric ulcers?
Gastric ulcerations are very common, recent studies have shown up to 98% of racehorses and up to 53% of leisure horses are affected.

Symptoms are often vague and can include:

• Poor performance
• Changes in behaviour
• Weight loss/ failure to maintain condition
• Colic
• Girthing pain
• Poor coat condition

Once diagnosed gastric ulcers can be treated quickly and effectively with medication and horses usually return to their former level of performance. Milbourn Equine offer twice monthly gastroscope clinics at Benenden and Sevington, where you can book in to bring your horse along for a gastroscope at a reduced price.

Scoping in your yard is also available by appointment – please ring for details

2

Sevington dates         Benenden dates

7th July 2015                  17th June 2015
4th August 2015             15th July 2015
1st September 2015        19th August 2015 and 16th September