Stomach Ulcers

    Wow, that was some race last weekend! I had a great time hosting our annual Kentucky Derby party with our Wellness Clients here at the clinic, and sampling the delicious food from O Sole Mio. When I see the hats that you people wear to watch a horse race, it makes me even more glad I’m a cat! It looks like a lot of work to make one of those things, and then carry it around on your head. I have people that do the work Dr. Lacher, Dr. Vurgason, and Tonyfor me, so that’s really not my thing at all. Anyway, the race was very exciting, especially the saddle-bronc bucking display coming out of the gate! Thoroughbreds are certainly majestic and athletic creatures. But, as a cat who works at a vet clinic, I can’t watch Thoroughbreds without thinking about stomach ulcers. Comes with the trade, I guess!

Could my horse have stomach ulcers?

  Short answer: yes. Long answer: horses of any breed or discipline, horses in and out of work, young horses, old horses, horses with a history of ulcers, and horses who have never been sick a day in their life… any horse can develop stomach ulcers. Did you know that 92% of racehorses in training have stomach ulcers? That being said, barrel racers, hunter/jumpers, reiners, eventers, harness horses, and cutting horses all have over 50% prevalence of GI ulcers as diagnosed by endoscopy. FYI, endoscopy is when a vet sticks a fiber-optic camera down your horse’s throat and into his stomach to actually look for ulcers along the stomach lining. That’s pretty cool!

But my horse isn’t stressed!

   How do you know? Did you ask him? The truth is, even if your horse has the life of a pampered prince that you could only dream of, he may be stressed by his normal daily routine. Did you know that keeping a horse in a stall for half a day, and feeding only twice a day can be stressful for your horse? When I get diabetic, the docs only feed me twice a day, and trust me, that’s not the way I like it! Spending hours grooming your horse may be relaxing for you, but it likely gets on his nerves to stand still in the cross-ties for that long. Hauling your horse anywhere, even to the park for a “leisurely” trail ride, is always a stress-inducing event.

OK, so how do I know for sure if my horse has stomach ulcers?

   The only way to know for sure if your horse has stomach ulcers is to have an endoscopy performed. But, I recommend simply starting with an exam by one of our awesome docs. They are highly experienced with the signs of stomach ulcers, and chances are with a thorough history and physical exam they can tell you whether your horse likely does or does not have GI ulcers. Also, they can help you navigate the confusing maze of ulcer treatments to pick the best option for you and your horse.
   Boy, I think all this learning is giving me an ulcer! Time for a cat nap. Until next week!