Gastric and Colonic Ulcers

It has become apparent in recent years that a significant number of horses are suffering from gut disorders such as gastric and colonic ulcers, scour and enteroliths. UlcersBrazilRounded
Endoscope picture of typical upper-wall ulcers – courtesy Dr Tim Brazil

Symptoms of Gastro-Intestinal Ulcers include:  
– poor condition.
– general lack of appetite.
– windsucking & crib-biting, grinding teeth and excessive salivation.
– weaving and box-walking. 
– lethargy, dull coat.
– acute or repetitive mild colic.
– loose droppings and fluid; scouring.
– Fractious behaviour, including bucking when ridden, objecting to girth tightening.
– Sensitive flanks, especially the right.
– Difficulty or resistance to bending and collection.

Causes of Equine Gastro-Intestinal Ulcers
– Frequent or excessive use of NSAID  type drugs e.g.’Bute;
– Can occur when feed bolted – lack of saliva to buffer stomach acid.
– Horse allowed to go hungry – no fibre in stomach to protect against damage by stomach acid -for example in the early hours before morning stables.
– Intensive exercise – can cause the stomach acid to splash onto the upper, unprotected stomach wall.
– Stress – causes contraction of abdominal muscles, in turn compressing the stomach and forcing acid up onto the upper wall.
– Feeding poor quality acidic haylage (mainly affects hind gut).

Horseheath Nutrition can provide free advice on management & diets for horses experiencing the problems outlined above. You can telephone 0344 8844 850 or 07721 384508 or use the form here.

For a more detailed account of gastro-intestinal ulcers click here.

For a recent (April 2021) review by a vet click here

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