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Common Questions About Horse Ulcer

Questions about Horse ulcer

It’s hard for anyone to get motivated and do their best if they aren’t feeling well. Just like with people, this sentiment applies to horses too. An ulcer can be painful and make them feel like not doing a whole lot of anything, whether it’s eating, exercising, or just standing up! It’s a horrible experience for the horse and owner alike. If you’re worried about your horse possibly having or getting an ulcer here are some questions that you might be interested in.

How Common Are Horse Ulcer…Really?

Horse ulcers are very common and can strike a horse at any age. Studies prove that anywhere from 50-90% of horses can have ulcers in their lifetime. The ones most at risk for this condition, however, are foals and adult horses that engage in a lot of strenuous activity, such as racehorses, endurance runners, and show horses.

However, even if a horse doesn’t perform for a living, it’s still very possible for them to develop an ulcer, although the chances aren’t as high as with high-activity equines.

Why Are Gastric Ulcers So Common In Horses?

  1. Anatomy– A horse’s stomach is small compared to other animals, meaning that it’s meant to eat small meals frequently throughout the day. Since they’re meant to graze throughout the day, they’re stomach constantly produces gastric acid to help the horse digest. But, if horses are eating large or sporadic meals instead of being allowed to eat smaller amounts throughout the day, it’s likely that the excess acid will create an ulcer.
  2. What They Eat– For horses, what they eat can be just as important as when they eat. High-grain diets or nutrition that consists primarily of processed foods are high in fatty acids that could upset their stomach and cause horse ulcer. The best thing for horses is to allow them to eat what they’re meant to eat by grazing from fresh grass. This doesn’t mean not to feed them grain or processed feed, but since it’s not a natural food source for them, try to add it to their diet in moderation.
  3. StressPhysical and environmental stress affects whether a horse gets an ulcer. This can be because of extended confinement to a stall or trailer or travel stress on the way to a competition. Stress in horses can also be caused by strenuous exercise, such as repeated running, prancing, or any other activity that a horse would normally only engage in during stress-related activities.
  4. Other– These are only some of the factors that make gastric ulcers such a common ailment among horses. Other reasons can be pointed to, such as the consistent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications or other gastrointestinal ailments. Even having a horse lay down too much without exercising increases the chances of something going wrong and leading to the development of an ulcer.

What Are Common Symptoms Of Horse Ulcer?

Most gastric ulcers aren’t clinically noticeable without tests, and so less obvious means are used to diagnose ulcers. Luckily, it’s not hard to tell when your horse is feeling under the weather, ulcer or not. These signs are called the Big A’s and include changes in attitude, appetite, or appearance.

Attitude-wise, a horse will seem surly or irritable if it’s developed an ulcer. It could also lose enthusiasm for training or have decreased performance during training sessions because of the pain caused by running to its stomach.

Changes in appetite will probably be the first thing you notice. This can mean that your horse has a poor appetite and walks away from meals without finishing them or that they’re refusing food that they once enjoyed. These symptoms suggest that the horses’ gastrointestinal tract is experiencing discomfort which could be a sign of an ulcer.

The horses’ appearance will also be affected. Since the horse finds it uncomfortable to eat, weight loss is a common sign. So is having a poor coat and body condition. It’s also possible that they can develop colic and become sensitive to people touching their lower belly or sternum area, be careful though, as this is usually a sign of a serious ulcer.

To learn more about how Harmonize Your Horse can help your horse’s digestive issue, check out our Product page.


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