What is Gastric Ulcers?


                      Gastric Ulcer or horse ulcers is the general term that is used to describe inflammation or irritation in the stomach lining. Ulcers generally occur in the non glandular mucosa of the stomach, which occurs due to the lack of adequate protection against the harmful effects of stomach acids.  Also, performance horse is fed with carbohydrates grain diet, which lowers the stomach pH and serves as substrates for the resident fermented bacteria such as Lactobacillus.

The gastric ulcers in horses are caused due to various factors such as, anatomy of the stomach, diet, stress(stall or transport), restricted feed intake , exercise and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Because many factors are involved in the cause of ulcers, the equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS)  has been originated to describe the conditions of erosions and ulcerations

How to Diagnose Gastric Ulcer in horses?

The only way to diagnose if the house is suffering from gastric ulcer is by with the help of the Vet by performing gastroscopy.Scoping is the best way for the Veterinarian to diagnose the presence and severance of ulcerations in the stomach and if conditions prevail, Proximal duodenum.  Be aware that most of the vets advice that before gastroscopy procedure is  performed, the horse must undergo a fasting period of 12 hours and also recommend to remove water from the stomach before four hours of the gastroscopy procedure.

What is the process of gastroscopy involves?

The following  visual process is followed  by the veteran with the help of a 3-meter gastro scope,

  • Whether or not gastric ulcerations exists.
  • The Severity of the Ulcers.
  • Identify the ulcerations effects in the lower glandular portion or Upper squamous portion of the stomach.
  • While Scoping is effective in confirming the presence of gastric ulcers , but it certain cases it over rules the presence of potential gastrointestinal problems.


How are  gastric ulcers caused in horses?

Horses are continuous gastric HIS secretors and acidic exposure is thought to be the primary cause of gastric ulcers in horses. While performance horses are fed with relatively low-roughage, high hydrolysable carbohydrate diet and have a higher prevalence of  gastric ulcers in comparison with the pastured horses. Gastric fermentation products like volatile fatty acids(VFA),, alcohol, and lactic acid may damage the squamous portion of the stomach. In addition, it is noted that calcium and protein rich diets such as Alfa-Alfa protects the nonglandular portions of the stomach against acid injury.

Warning signs of gastric ulcers in horses:

Many of the warning signs of gastric ulcers in the horses are as follows:

  1. Weight Loss
  2. Resistance under saddle.
  3. Irritability and changes in attitude.
  4. Lack of Energy
  5. Lack of Stamina
  6. Loss of appetite.
  7. Behavior indicating discomforts around the flanks
  8. Low grade anameia
  9. Brushing/Blanketing
  10. Diarrohea

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS):

Despite much research and study has been performed in relevance EGUS there are various risk factors that accompany squamous ulcerations in the horses. They are:

  1. Vigorous training for performance horses
  2. Limited turnout
  3. Diet or Routine change
  4. Grain-based feeds
  5. Travel and Competition.



Darlene Santiago

Darlene Santiago