Why do horses get stomach ulcers?
No one, not even the omniscient Tony, knows quite what causes ulcers to develop in one horse compared to another. But, with a quick glimpse of their brilliant anatomy *sarcasm* you can understand why horses are so prone to this painful condition, also called EGUS (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome). You see, horses, like most other animals, use acid to help digest the food in their stomachs. Logically, most of their stomach is coated with an acid-resistant lining. However, the top 1/3 of their stomach lining is uncoated, and when acid splashes on it, *surprise* they get ulcers.
When should I treat my horse for ulcers?
Some signs of stomach ulcers in horses are obvious, while others are more subtle. When Dr. V’s horse bucked her off because she tightened his girth… that was a pretty obvious sign. But as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you can anticipate stress-inducing events for your horse, it is much easier and less expensive to prevent your horse from developing ulcers in the first place, than to treat them once they are already established.
For example, Dr. Lacher’s horse just underwent major surgery, and will be on stall rest for an extended period of time. Dr. Lacher has her horse on Gastrotech and Ranitidine to protect him from developing ulcers. Our amazing office assistant, Mallie, has a mare who just weaned a foal and moved to a new farm. Mallie has her on Ulcergard to prevent stress-induced ulcers.
We know that exercise, illness or injury, hauling anywhere, and change in routine are all events that have been linked to ulcers in horses. In general, it is best to treat your horse for ulcers BEFORE you think he has them.
What should I treat my horse’s ulcers with?
You have probably heard of Gastrogard and Ulcergard (which incidentally are exactly the same product, just marketed differently), but there are a myriad of other ulcer treatments out there. One of the most promising areas of recent ulcer research is in feed and supplements that prevent ulcers by raising stomach pH. Legends Gastrotech and Purina Outlast would be examples of these. Remember from high school chemistry, low pH=acid, high pH=base. In lay-cat’s terms, that means any feed, supplement, or medication that raises stomach pH is going to inhibit ulcers.
How can I learn more about ulcers in horses?
I’m so glad you asked! Simply come to my event this Thursday, Sept. 7th at 6:30 pm; don’t forget it’s at Canterbury Showplace. I can personally guarantee that every question about equine gastric ulcers will be answered in great detail. I wish I could say I will see you there, but I’ll be stuck holding down the fort at the Clinic with Teanie. Now then, if you’ll excuse me, it’s nap time.