Gastric Ulcers

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) is an incredibly common disease of horses, particularly for those in training.  There are two main classifications, squamous ulcers caused by excess acid exposure and glandular ulcers which are less well understood.

Risk factors for EGUS

  • Transportation
  • Stress
  • Intermittent feeding
  • Racing/ competition
  • Intense training
  • Large amounts of concentrate feed
  • Illness
  • Stable confinement

Symptoms of gastric ulcers

There a large number of possible symptoms of gastric ulcers, these are a few of the more common ones:

  • Poor coat
  • Colic- particularly immediately after eating
  • Poor body condition
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor performance
  • Change in behaviour
  • Girthing pain
  • Chronic diarrhoea

Diagnosis

The most accurate and useful method of diagnosis is gastroscopy. Gastroscopy provides a visual assessment of the ulcers, allowing a suitable treatment plan to be designed and for progress to be monitored.

We have a portable gastroscope that we can bring to your horse, saving the stress of transporting them to a clinic.

Treatment

Omeprazole is currently the only licensed medication for the treatment of ulcers in the UK. Luckily it is usually very effective if a reliable formulation is used.  There are a few other adjunctive treatments available which are discussed in the gastric ulcer blog post on our website.

Prevention

Recurrence of ulcers is very common, particularly in horses in intensive training or competition. Low doses of omeprazole have shown to help prevent the recurrence of ulcers in these horses.

Proper management can reduce recurrence, constant access to forage, regular turnout, giving a small forage feed 30 minutes prior to exercise and allowing your horse to express normal behaviours have all been shown to help prevent ulcers.

If you have any questions about gastric ulcers or your horses’ health please call us.