Signs of gastric ulcers in horses are often lumped in with the signs of hindgut ulcers. However, there are a few key differences which will help you identify which type of ulcers your horse is suffering from
General ulcer symptoms:
- Reduced feed intake or poor appetite
- Loss of condition
- Rough or poor hair coat
- Poor performance
- Changes in behaviour and attitude – this may be either an increase in fear and flightiness or dull and quiet.
Signs of gastric ulcers in horses:
Two key identifiers that can indicate gastric ulcers in horses are cribbing & food behaviour.
Cribbing – also known as crib biting. When the horse bites down on objects and draws in breath. Its thought that the excess saliva and influx of air temporarily relieves the pain of gastric ulcers.
Walking away from food. This due to the discomfort caused when food reaches the stomach.
For a definitive answer about gastric ulcers – you will need to get your horse scoped by a vet. However, this isnt always possible. Luckily, a vet in the US has designed a presumptive technique you can use to check for gastric ulcers at home. You can read more about this technique here.
Furthermore, some people treat their horses with a trial dose of gastric ulcer medication to see how the horse responds. Usually the symptoms of ulcers are alleviated within 3 -5 days of treatment.
The ability to order this medication online, without a prescription makes it a good option for people in isolated locations, or people that aren’t keen to get their horse scoped.
Hindgut ulcer symptoms
Unlike gastric ulcers, a scope cant positively identify ulcers in a horse’s hind gut. There are a few advanced techniques like thermo imaging – but they can be out of reach to most horse people.
Instead, most vets make a presumptive diagnosis based on the following symptoms.
- Sudden girthiness
- Sensitivity in the flank area
- Difficulty bending, collecting, and extending
- Blood in the manure.
- Acidic manure: Manure with pH lower than 6.5 indicates hindgut acidosis.
For more information about the symptoms, causes and treatment of hindgut ulcers. Read this article.