Gastric Ulcers

Horses are prone to ulcers—especially if traveling or in stressful situations.
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Watch your horse closely for any signs of an ulcer; if they appear, contact your vet for positive diagnosis and treatment. 

Watch your horse closely for any signs of an ulcer; if they appear, contact your vet for positive diagnosis and treatment. 

Stay Alert to Avoid Ulcers

Prevalent in racehorses, gastric ulcers may also occur in up to 60 percent of show and pleasure horses. Stress, athletic activity, and nutrition/feeding patterns can be risk factors. Diets high in roughage (which ups saliva production to neutralize stomach acid) are recommended, as is plenty of turnout (confinement increases risk). Strive also to minimize the stress of hauling and competition. Though some symptoms (below) may point to the possibility of ulcers, in general the clinical signs aren’t definitive. An endoscopic exam by your vet provides the only sure diagnosis, and should precede treatment.

[MORE ABOUT: Equine Gastric Ulcers]

May Signal an Ulcer? 

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colicky behavior Ulcers can cause your horse to display signs of mild abdominal discomfort. 

poor condition
Mild weight loss and overall poor condition have many causes, including ulcers.

sore back
A sore back, cinchiness, or simply poor performance can also point to ulcers.

[MORE ABOUT: Avoiding & Treating Ulcers]

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Ulcer Treatments

If your vet diagnoses ulcers, ask him or her about omeprazole, a proven remedy and preventive. Because the safety of compounded products is hard to assure, opt for an FDA-approved product (as above). Also…

  • Pepto-Bismol is for humans—not your horse.
  • Products that support gastrointestinal health (as below) may also be beneficial; ask your vet.

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