Stomach ulcers in horses are common. As many as 50% of foals and up to 1/3 of adult horses can have milder forms of ulcers if they are kept in stalls. Upwards of sixty-percent of show horses and ninety-percent of racehorses can develop moderate-to-severe ulcers. Naturally, the more severe the stomach ulcer, the more problems your horse is going to have.
Just because the stomach ulcers are prevalent, that doesn’t mean you should simply have your horse wait it out. If you find that your horse is showing ulcer like symptoms seek treatment sooner rather than later. Dealing with a mild stomach ulcer in your horse in the present can go a long way towards avoiding more serious stomach ulcers later on.
To understand how to treat stomach ulcers in horses, it might be a good idea first to look at the causes of stomach ulcers in horses.
Stomach Ulcer Causes
When it comes to something like ulcers, we are unfortunately forced to deal with a wide variety of potential causes. Learn about these causes, and then learn what you can do to prevent ulcers to the best of your ability:
Natural Environment v Fasting:
Horses tend to eat lots of small meals throughout the day. This is known as grazing. Doing so prevents stomach acid from becoming problematic. If your horse is not grazing, they might be fasting. If this is the case, stomach ulcers can begin to appear.
Type of feed
The type of feed you give your horse can play a role in whether or not they develop stomach ulcers, in addition to how much of the feed they are eating. Roughage requires the horse to chew more, which in turn stimulates greater amounts of salvia. When salvia is swallowed while eating, acid levels go down. If concentrates are fed, acid production rises.
If a horse is exercising too much, they may fast more. Exercise can also increase the length of time for the stomach of the horse to be emptied, which in turn can lead to the horse retaining greater amounts of acid. Too much exercise, more fasting, and decreased roughage can all lead to stress. As you can imagine, stress can lead to stomach ulcers.
Overusing certain NSAIDS (Bute is an example) can diminish the production of something known as PgE2, which in turn diminishes acid production. Low PgE2 levels can lead to high acid production.
How best to avoid and treat Equine Stomach ulcers
Ideally give your horse as much turnout as possible together with changes in diet and exercise, if this is not possible its best to treat stomach ulcers in horses with the approved active ingredient Omeprazole.