Stomach ulcers in horses

Unfortunately, stomach ulcers are one of the most common stomach ailments in horses. Above all, improper feeding and animal husbandry as well as excessive stress make the horse’s stomach “sour”. Agricultural scientist d. Patricia Sitzenstock explains symptoms, diagnosis, and prevention.

Studies have found that up to 40% of all recreational horses, 50% of all ponies, 60% of all show horses and up to 90% of all racehorses have stomach ulcers.

How do horses get stomach ulcers?

Dr. Patricia Sitzenstock: Unlike humans, who only produce stomach acids after eating, horses produce them constantly, that is, around the clock. If the protective mechanisms of the gastric mucosa are disrupted, stomach acid comes into direct contact with this sensitive area. This leads to irritation of the stomach lining (gastritis). If this condition lasts longer, dreaded stomach ulcers (stomach ulcers), also known as equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS), can occur.


What are the symptoms of stomach ulcers in horses?

Dr. Patricia Sitzenstock: Symptoms are often nonspecific at first and do not directly indicate a stomach problem. However, there are signs and behaviors that can indicate a stomach ulcer:

  • Severe or frequent colic, especially after eating concentrated feeds
  • Bad or selective eating
  • Drinking more or less
  • Reluctance to tighten the collar
  • bad breath
  • teeth grinding
  • flea
  • empty chewing
  • burping
  • bad general condition
  • Weight loss
  • behavioral changes


When should I contact the vet?

Dr. Patricia Sitzenstock: If you notice the symptoms just mentioned on your horse unusually often, veterinary clarification is recommended. An accurate diagnosis can only be made by a veterinarian and only with the help of gastroscopy (gastroscopy).

How does this investigation work?

Dr. Patricia Sitzenstock: A gastroscopy is performed on an anesthetized standing horse. The horse is not allowed to eat or drink anything a few hours before that so that the view of the stomach remains clear. In gastroscopy, a flexible endoscope equipped with a camera is inserted through the nostrils, advanced into the larynx and, after swallowing, carefully pushed through the esophagus into the stomach and then into the anterior section of the small intestine. With this method, all relevant stages of digestion can be displayed and evaluated directly on the screen. If it is not possible to perform a gastroscopy, the veterinarian will perform a so-called diagnostic treatment. This means that the horse receives the medication and treatment that horses with stomach ulcers receive. If symptoms visibly improve, it is very likely that a stomach ulcer is the cause.

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Stomach ulcers are very painful for horses and very expensive to treat. So what should I do to prevent this?

Dr. Patricia Sitzenstock: Proper nutrition and good management are critical to a horse’s stomach health. In nature, horses spend about 16 hours eating. As a rule, they do not take breaks from eating more than four hours. And for good reason: a horse’s stomach is only 18 liters in size and therefore relatively small, but it is constantly producing stomach acid. Eating regular feed in small portions means that the stomach is always perfectly full and the secretion of saliva ensures that stomach acid is neutralized.

What should I pay attention to when breastfeeding?

Dr. Patricia Sitzenstock: First and foremost, you must provide your horse with enough roughage. A horse needs at least 1.5-2.0 percent of its weight in roughage. Feeding the coarse should precede any concentrated feeding – ideally, the horse has unrestricted access to the coarse. If this is not possible, you can also offer horse bran substitutes. Prolonging these feeding times, keeps her occupied and stimulates saliva production.

And what concentrated feed should I choose?

Dr. Patricia Sitzenstock: When choosing the appropriate concentrated feed, it is advisable to use low-starch and low-sugar types. Concentrated feeds containing substances that neutralize stomach acid are especially suitable, if combined with ingredients such as probiotics and prebiotics that promote healthy intestinal flora – such as Pavo Ease & Excel (see below). In addition, the food should be divided into as many small portions as possible.

Free peptic ulcer business plan

In Pavo’s Practical Action Plan you will find all the important information about stomach ulcers at a glance. The following questions were clarified:

  • How does stomach ulcers affect the performance of my horse?
  • How do you recognize the symptoms of stomach ulcers (in its early stages)?
  • What are the risk factors that can lead to stomach ulcers?
  • What should I pay attention to myself to prevent stomach ulcers in my horse?

Download the business plan now for free!

Sports feed for horses with sensitive stomachs

Pavo Ease & Excel Useful for nervous horses with a sensitive stomach and lack of appetite. Sports muesli has an acid neutralizing effect, consists of easily digestible raw fibers and vegetable oils with a very low content of sugar and starch, thus allowing maximum performance without upsetting the horse’s stomach. Olympic contestant Helen Langhanenberg also landed Pavo Ease & Excel:

The ideal nutrition for nervous dressage horses with sensitive stomachs.

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