Is Your Horse At Risk Of Getting Ulcers? Syndromes & Best Treatments For Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) 2022


Equine gastric ulcer syndrome affects more than fifty percent of all foals1 and horses that are not used in competitive performance2 (EGUS). The numbers are even higher when considering racehorses. Is there a danger to your horse?

The development of ulcers in horses occurs when the acid production in the stomach is so high that it overwhelms the stomach’s normal protective mechanisms. There are a number of factors that can contribute to this condition, including inconsistent or low-roughage feeding, rigorous training schedules, stress caused by travel, injury, or isolation, and excessive use of NSAIDs.

Stress? What stress?

A lengthy transport, surgery, race training, isolation and limited turnout, excessive use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and improper feeding techniques are all examples of stressful events.

  • Up to 93 percent of racehorses show signs of EGUS.
  • Between 40 and 60 percent of sport horses suffer ulcers.

Symptoms of EGUS

Colic can be caused by equine gastric ulcer syndrome, and the condition’s hallmark symptom is recurrent bouts of the digestive disorder. Other symptoms of EGUS that are common in horses include a lack of appetite and condition, a reduction in the amount of manure produced, a loss of weight, a dull or rough hair coat, and mild, acute, or frequent colic. It’s possible that your horse is grouchy as well. You’d be, wouldn’t you?

In foals, you should be on the lookout for intermittent colic, an appearance of potbelly, poor condition, diarrhea, teeth grinding, or excessive salivation.

Although a new fecal blood test is now available to assist in the diagnosis of equine gastric problems including EGUS, equine gastroscopy remains the gold standard for establishing a diagnosis of equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS).

Diagnosing EGUS

A gastroscope may be utilized by your veterinarian in order to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis. A gastroscope is essentially a long endoscope; it is a device with a camera attached to one end that gives your veterinarian an up-close view of the lining of the stomach. The fact that a gastroscope is going to be inserted through your horse’s nostrils is going to make him very uncomfortable. Your horse will most likely be sedated with a tranquilizer before the procedure because, while it is not painful, the experience is not exactly pleasant either. A gastroscopy typically lasts for around twenty minutes.

There is now a blood test that can be performed on feces. The results of a Succeed FBT®, according to the company that makes the test, reveal “…occult fecal blood from anywhere along the GI tract, distinguishing foregut from hindgut sources.” This test is an easy and convenient step towards diagnosis and treatment if it reveals that your horse is suffering from a bleeding ulcer; however, it is important to note that not all ulcers bleed.

Reduce the amount of acid that is being produced in the stomach, physically coat the stomach to protect it from acid, and/or use a buffer to neutralize the acid that is being produced in the stomach to treat equine gastric ulcer syndrome.

Treatment of EGUS

The natural, grazing lifestyle is the most effective treatment for equine gastric ulcer syndrome. The horse should be kept on pasture at all times. However, as this is not always feasible or possible, horse owners frequently resort to the use of medications.

The Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, abbreviated as EGUS, affects a significant percentage of horses. EGUS is linked to stress, and the onset of symptoms can occur as quickly as 5 days after exposure to a stressful event.

  • Proton Pump Inhibitors

The production of stomach acid is a function of a mechanism called proton pumps, which are located in the stomach. Ulcers are the result of a lengthy process, and these are the final steps in that process. Inhibitors of proton pumps stop cellular pumps from committing their evil deeds and are therefore very useful. Gastrogard® is the brand name for omedprazole, which is the equine equivalent of the human medication Prilosec. The FDA has given its blessing for the use of Gastrogard® as a treatment for EGUS. It is simple to prepare, and only one serving is required per day. It is the treatment for EGUS that has the greatest level of demand.

  • H2 Blockers

Histamines are released by the tissues of the body, where they stimulate the cells of the stomach to produce acid. H2 blockers prevent histamine from being produced, which in turn slows the rate at which acid is produced. H2 blockers include medications such as cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), and famotidine (Pepcid AC).

  • Antacids

The stomach acid that has already been produced can be neutralized by taking an antacid.

Endoscopic appearance of gastric lesions in foals: 94 cases. 1 Murray MJ (98701988) JAVMA 1989

2 Mitchell RD. Prevalence of gastric ulcers in horses evaluated for poor performance in hunter/jumper and dressage disciplines. A report published by the Association for Equine Sport Medicine in September 2001

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