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Equine Ulcers

Gastric ulcers are prevalent in both foals and adult horses. Mild ulcers are quite common in many stall-confined horses and foals, while performance horses frequently develop severe ulcers. That’s why we’ve put together a brief guide about equine gastric ulcers, including their symptoms, causes and prevention.

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What Are Equine Ulcers?

Equine ulcers occur when a horse’s stomach lining becomes irritated and inflamed, which can happen due to a number of different circumstances. The inflammation may appear as lesions in the stomach’s mucosa (lining) as the gastric acid erodes the lining. Ulcers can occur at the upper or lower region of the horse’s stomach, but most affect the upper third of the equine’s stomach. They occur due to damage caused by excess gastric acid and sometimes parasites.

What Are the Symptoms of Ulcers in Horses?

Symptoms of ulcers can also indicate the presence of other ailments, so it’s important to allow a vet to examine your horse as soon as possible. The most common symptoms of gastric ulcers include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Alterations in the hair coat
  • Irritable behavior
  • Poor performance in competitions
  • Frequent wood chewing
  • Teeth grinding
  • Excessive production of saliva
  • Lying down on the back
  • Scours or diarrhea
  • Mild colic
  • Mental dullness
  • Biting at flanks
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What Causes Equine Gastric Ulcers?

A horse can develop ulcers when its lifestyle and diet are altered considerably. Horses have evolved as trickle feeders, and they love to move around regularly as they feed, but the lifestyle of most performance horses introduces many risk factors that cause ulcers, such as:

  • Rigorous training
  • Frequent long travel
  • Irregular or infrequent feeding
  • Fasting
  • Increased intake of grains instead of hay
  • Constant competition
  • Unfamiliar surroundings
  • Changes in feed
  • Weather extremes

Another cause of gastric ulcers includes regular intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like Banamine paste and Bute.

How Can You Prevent Equine Ulcers?

You can prevent gastric ulcers in your horses by ensuring that they regularly eat the right type of feed with adequate roughage and that they’re not frequently exposed to adverse conditions. To that end, here are a few valuable tips to consider:

  • Feed your horses with pasture or hay, or adopt a slow feeding method
  • Cut down or remove grains and other high-carbohydrate feed
  • Feed your horse on pasture or hay before taking it out for rigorous exercise
  • Reduce the length of each training session to allow for more feeding
  • Add alfalfa hay to your horse’s diet for calcium and extra protein
  • Reduce stress-inducing situations like long trips and training
  • Avoid the use of medication like Bute
  • Let your horse have grazing partners or be part of a herd
  • Give your horse a proven supplement like Zesterra®

Learn More About Using Zesterra® to Prevent Equine Ulcers

Zesterra® is an all-natural equine supplement that helps reduce the stomach’s pH. Giving your horse a dose of it before a trip or just before intense training will help them perform well and reduce the risk of ulcers. Learn more about Zesterra® from our product page, or contact us now for additional information as well as prompt answers to any questions you have.

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