Digestive ulcers are common problem with horses, which may be caused by us humans. Horses develop ulcers as a result of their diet and management, whereby humans ulcers are usually caused by bacterial infection. Confining a horse to a stall is a major cause for the development of digestive ulcers. The quality of feed and the frequency of feeding can also be contributing factors.
Stress leads to Horse Ulcers
Normally, stabled horses may be fed at least two to three times each day and when this occurs, the stomach may be emptied for longer periods of time. Ideally, horses should eat as frequently as possible to help produce saliva from constant chewing. The saliva being produced helps in neutralizing the acidity of the gastric environment. Stabled horses are usually fed with high-grain feeds which produce volatile acids which may also contribute to ulcer development.
Both physical stress and environmental stress can also contribute to the development of horse ulcers. Stress can result when horses are trained extensively, transported, or even mixed with different groups of horses. Horse ulcers are best prevented by focusing more on the factors and finding a solution to remove these factors. This in turn would decrease the level of acidity in the horses’ stomach.
Treatment & Prevention of Gastric Ulcers in Horses
The treatment and prevention of gastric ulcers is directed at removing these predisposing factors,and decreasing acid production within the horse’s stomach. Follow these tips from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to properly treat your horse’s ulcers:
To prevent horse ulcers from developing:
– Feed your horses frequently with smaller meals
– Allow free grazing
– Feed more forage instead of high-grain feeds
Medication may be necessary to treat the ulcers such as equine Omeprazole. There are several medications that help reduce the acidity of the stomach but only Omeprazole has been studied and approved safe for use in horses. If your horse shows clinical signs and symptoms of ulcers such as poor performance, poor appetite, changes in behavior and grinding of teeth, it’s time to seek advice from the vet. Most likely medication with be required for your horse when eliminating the predisposing factors such as stress is not possible.
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