“Recent studies indicate that 93% of racehorses, 60% of other performance horses, and 56% of foals are affected by (ulcers & hindgut lesions).” —Dr Sigler, PhD, Texas A&M University 2011 Alltech International Animal Health & Nutrition Industry Symposium
Ulcers & Hindgut Lesions Horses have evolved open plains leisurely grazing or freely moving to avoid danger. Horses in the human world with disrupted eating & moving patterns develop digestive problems. Because the horse's stomach secretes acid continuously, long periods
without food cause problems. Grain stimulates more stomach acid secretions. Being
pent up & unable freely release energy, especially at stressful competitions, leads to
nervous tension & internal frustration. All this increases stomach upset & ulcers.
Most horses with ulcers get splash back into the hindgut, causing lesions & poor
digestion. This causes hindgut acidosis, disrupting healthy intestine bacteria. Hindgut upset & lesions leads to anorexia, colic, laminitis, continuous repetitive behaviours like wood chewing & weaving. Without good stable care, some horses get loaded up with worms, causing other hindgut infections. While some hotter breeds are predisposed to ulcers, poor handling can also lead to ulcers & hindgut lesions in quieter breeds.
Most of the ulcers occur in the
Key factors leading to ulcers & hindgut lesions
upper half of the stomach & are
Stressful moves to new stables or intense show competitions
very similar to 'heartburn' in humans.
Nervous intense breeds like thoroughbreds & KPWN
—Dr Duren, PhD, Kentucky Equine
High-intensity exercise, like eventing & endurance
High-starch diets, containing poorly digested barley and corn Food deprivation—being underfed malnourish & easy keepers on restricted diets
Food keeps acid in lower more
Stall confinement due to injury or showing
resistant areas of the stomach.
Hauling long distances to shows or new locations
Roughage is a buffer
Improperly handled foals & yearlings
neutralizing acid. Small
Poor worming program over long period of time
amounts of alfalfa hay can buffer stomach acid for five hours.
High strung attitude compulsive behaviour like wood chewing & weaving
—N. Loving, DVM 2004 TheHorse.com Article 1001
Very intense behaviour at feeding times Grinding teeth to release tension Poor attention or willfulness during training Poor appetite or picky slow eater Gas when turned out on grass, especially in young horses Low tolerance for pain
Omeprazole Treatment Stage 1 Treatment Stage 2 Maintenance Dose @ 100 ml/day dose ml/day dose ml/day dose @ 4 mg/kg-0.04 ml/kg @ 2 mg/kg-0.02 ml/kg @ 1 mg/kg-0.01 ml/kg 500 kg-1100 lb 400 kg-880 lb large pony
Full Treatment Ulcers & Hindgut Lesions
free access to hay/cubes/grass in large paddock or pasture. Free choice hay for
hauling & shows. Aids digestion attitude & hydration reducing stress.
Do maintenance dose (5 ml/day) until hind gut issues resolved; for hauling &
shows. Up to 80% remain ulcer free after omeprazole treatments but some
research & get help from those
nervous high energy horses may need continual low dose omeprazole.
well trained in equine nutrition.
Daily high fat Step 8 or Masterfeed Senior or Kate’s ration balancer. Because fat aids digestion high fibre diet & energy, add up to 2 cups per day canola oil
Nutraceuticals is a multi-billion-
Feed good Power-gest Digestive Aid (yellow container) available at Spruce Grove
Feeds—other less complete probiotic products not as good. Use for 3 to 6
months—then use quality yeast in feed for maintenance.
products” for themselves & their
Fenbendazole Worming also reduces hind gut inflammation & heals lesions. Repeat every
six weeks until issue resolved. Continue once a year for pleasure horses; twice
products are "natural" &,
For horses without previous regular worming, repeat within 10 days & follow
with quest plus 10 days later; with quest 10 days after that.
Unfortunately, this is not always
Float teeth annually; get teeth checked every 6 months. Horses with teeth & jaw
problems can’t chew food properly, causing digestive issues.
unregulated & often not studied closely. —Dr. Crandell, PhD
Hyoid, poll & Jaw tightness & poll tension leads to soreness in shoulders via Hyoid throat &
neck muscles. Regular releases with sports therapy improves chewing, better performance & improved overall attitude.
Add teaspoon of salt or baking soda daily. Reduces stomach acidity &
maintain electrolytes, especially in summer when doing heavy work.
Available at feed store for cattle in 25 kg bags & inexpensive.
for gastric ulcers in horses &
Avoid using electrolytes except for hauling & extreme endurance sports.
foals greater than four weeks old
Electrolytes contribute to stomach acidity.
Add tablespoon of magnesium oxide daily. Available at feed store for cattle in
better performance & attitude on
Molasses reduces alkalinity & adds iron. Add small portion daily with high
omeprazole —Dr. White, DVM,
fibre high fat ration. Molasses may help digestion, as a probiotic when
fermented in hind gut, especially for high energy hard working horses.
MSM reduces alkalinity & helps build good feet & bones
EquiShure by Kentucky Equine Research (KER) available in Canada from
Brooks Performance Horse Feeds Ontario 1.25 kg $50 shipping extra online at
http://www.equine-online-1879.com/products Use for severe cases only.
Nutritional Management of Gastric Ulcers—E. Larson, 2011
Pepto-Bismol Pepto-Bismol is used to treat diarrhea & other gastro-intestinal diseases like
ulcers & excess gas. During digestion, it acts as a mild anti-biotic, binding to bacterial toxins, & as a mild anti-inflammatory, coating & soothing stomach &
intestine lining. It reduces diarrhea by normalizing fluid movement into & out of
the gut. For foals with diarrhea, use 10 ml per 100 lbs daily until conditions
improve. For horses, use 10-30 ml for gas colic, bloating, and hind gut liesians
Some long standing ulcers can stimulate the release histamines from the stomach.
Some human anti-histamines dont work well on horses, but there are histamines that
work for horses. For severe ulcers provide anti-histamines 4 times daily for 5 to 10
days. Repeat every 8 weeks until conditions improve.
Some long standing ulcers can fester embedded infected stomach sores. For severe
ulcers provide anti-biotics (trimethoprim sulfa, or SMZ-TMP) for 5 to 10 days.
Safety & side effects—Dr Oke,
Repeat every 8 weeks until conditions improve.
DVM, MSc 2011, TheHorse.com
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause stomach problems &
hindgut inflammation. While Bute given orally or intravenously for more than 14
days is the most harmful, all NSAIDs including flunixin (Banamine), when used for
more than a month block "good" enzymes, needed to protect the lining of the
stomach. This can also lead to problems in the kidneys and hindgut function. Administering NSAIDs with omeprazole and in combination can reduce side effects. Treating the hindgut with the treatments listed in this table will also help.
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