Horses have evolved to have a constant flow of food into and through their digestive tract. In the wild, horses graze frequently and continually secrete hydrochloric acid into their stomachs. Under stabling conditions, food deprivation leaves the acid in the empty stomach able to attack the stomach lining. This attack of the gastric lining (mucosa) can be exacerbated by transport, intense exercise and other forms of stress which can increase gastric acid secretion.

The incidence of gastric ulcers varies from about 37% in non-competition horses, to 60% in sports horses, and to over 90% in young Thoroughbred race horses in training.

Clinical signs of gastric ulceration include poor appetite, various degrees of colic, decreased performance, loss of body condition and a dull coat. Clinical signs may suggest the presence of gastric ulcers but the only definitive means of diagnosis is by endoscopic examination (gastroscopy).

The gastroscope is essential for diagnosing stomach diseases, gastric ulcers, as well as gastric tumors, infections, and obstructions. Currently, no blood test can determine if your horse has ulcers, the only way to evaluate your horse for gastric ulceration is through gastroscopy.

A light sedative is used to facilitate the procedure. The horse must fast for 12 hours prior to the procedure so that food does not obscure any of the gastric mucosa. Most horses tolerate the procedure well and the information acquired leads to a definitive diagnosis and corrective therapy.

Symptoms may vary greatly between individuals however some of the more common clinical signs in adult horses include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Poor body condition and hair coat
  • Acute or recurrent colic
  • Excessive lying down while stabled
  • Stretching to urinate
  • Poor performance
  • Reluctance to gallop
  • Dressage horses may have poor tolerance to lateral work, sweat profusely, or stop
  • Attitude and behavioral changes
  • Discomfort on girth tightening

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Please contact Winners Circle Ranch at:
Phone: (626) 303-7853

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Winner's Circle Ranch would not be what it is today if it weren't for our professional and dedicated staff. We are able to offer the best care and the most advanced veterinary therapeutics because of the people employed at our ranch.
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