Cause Of Ulcers in Horses
Issues relating to diet, stress and exercise are the main causes of ulcers in horses. Ulcers are widely understood to be a ‘man-made’ problem that has developed with the domestication of modern horses.
Horses on pasture have a much lower incidence of ulcers compared to performance horses. In fact, its thought that over 60% of performance horses suffer from ulcers.
Common causes of ulcers include:
- A high energy diet with low-roughage intake.
- Intensive exercise on an empty stomach – known as gastric splashing.
- Stressors. These include physical stress like illness and behavioural stress like stall confinement, travel and isolation. Find out more about stress causing equine ulcers here.
- Use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (e.g. Phenylbutazone or Flunixin meglumine).
- Parasite infestation
- Starvation – often seen with rescue horses.
An invasive procedure that views the inside of the stomach to verify gastric ulcers. In addition to verifying the presence of ulceration, scoping also shows their severity.
Scopes can be stressful for the horse and MUST be carried out by a vet.
Alternatively, you can use an acupressure technique developed by equine vet, Dr Mark DePaolo. You can do this by using acupressure to check gastric ulcer symptoms at home.
Increasingly vets are suggesting a trial treatment of ulcer medication. This approach is non-invasive & relatively inexpensive. After 14 days of treatment, if there’s little difference to the horse’s condition and demeanour then ulcers can generally be ruled out.
You can find out more about the trial medication method here.