Equine Gastric Ulcers are caused by erosion of the horse’s stomach lining, due to prolonged exposure to acid produced by the stomach. They occur with a wide range of severity, from an inflamed but intact stomach lining, through to widespread erosion and bleeding. In extreme circumstances the condition develops to such an extent that perforation of the stomach can occur, and this can be fatal. Such fatalities most commonly occur in foals, rather than adult horses.
Gastric ulcers occur when aggressive factors in gastric juice – such as acid and digestive enzymes – overpower the protective factors in the stomach lining. As horses have evolved to be continually feeding, acid is continually secreted into the stomach; this means that prolonged periods without food to neutralise that acid can lead to ulceration.
When horses are denied free access to feed or fail to eat, ulcers can develop rapidly.
Gastric ulceration is a serious yet common condition that can affect any horse – from the most sedate pony to performance and racehorses.
Studies indicate that gastric ulcers occur in up to:
37% of leisure horses
63% of performance horses
93% of racehorses
Foals are also at particular risk - around 50% of foals develop stomach ulcers, particularly in the first few months of life. Foals are known to secrete substantial amounts of gastric acid by 2 days of age, resulting in highly acidic stomach contents in between periods of time when they are nursing. As a foal’s stomach lining is thinner than that of an adult horse, it is particularly susceptible to damage.
Proposed risk factors for gastric ulcers in foals include:
Weaning, or reduced feed consumption
Common Risk Factors include:
As horses are ‘trickle feeders’ there is a continuous secretion of acid within the stomach, so prolonged periods without food to neutralise that acid can lead to ulceration. When horses are denied free access to feed or fail to eat, ulcers develop rapidly. Use of concentrated feeds may also contribute to ulcer risk by reducing the time spent feeding and increasing gastrin levels.
There is a definite association between equine training and gastric ulceration. Even non-intensive training is associated with a high prevalence of stomach ulcers. It has been shown that blood flow to the stomach (which helps to remove acid) decreases with exercise - while increased pressure in the abdomen during exercise.
It is difficult to recognize the signs of ulcers but they may include one or more of the following:
Irritability when girthing up
Poor condition including dull coat
Mild or recurrent colic
TIPS FOR PREVENTING ULCERS
Wherever possible, a pasture diet is ideal – small, regular amounts of grass, hay and beet pulp during the day means the horse chews well and digests more slowly. This is natures way of avoiding ulcers by neutralize the gut.
Turn out for grazing as often as possible.
Reduce acidity in the diet by avoiding high starch feeds – this will help neutralize the acid in the digestive tract.
Uls-Gard works in four ways:
By neutralizing acid in the stomach with effective anti-acids
Soothing and coating the stomach lining
Healing any underlying ulcers
New Equine America Uls-Gard Solution 946ml provides a two month supply at £26.99 making it the most affordable product on the market. You should feed a double dose for the first two weeks which works out at 33p per day and then reduce to normal dosing of 15ml twice daily.
Uls-Gard was found to be the most effective and affordable treatment by the 'Horse Journal' when compared with other brands and is the only ulcer supplement to undergo intensive trials. Please click on the link below for 'before' and 'after' results.
Product Ref: UGS946