Every horse owner has heard of gastric ulcers with the condition being quite common. Read on to find out to find out all you need to know about gastric ulcers and how they can affect your horse.
Why Do Gastric Ulcers Occur?
Horses have evolved over millions of years to eat little and often on an almost continual basis as trickle feeders. Unrestricted feral horses have been observed grazing for between 16-20 hours per day. The horse’s digestive system has evolved to cater for persistent grazing. The horse’s stomach is divided into two parts: the Gastric region and the Squamous region. The Gastric region (bottom part) produces acid on a continual basis to break down the constant trickle of feed. The Gastric region has a protective coating to keep the stomach lining from being damaged by acid. Ulcers may occur in the gastric region, but this is far less common. The Squamous region (top part) on the other hand has no protection from acid. It relies on the presence of fibre to be constantly present to act as a physical barrier for the stomach lining. When fibre is not present, this acid can splash to the unprotected Squamous region and gastric ulcers may form. Furthermore, high-grain diets produce volatile fatty acids that can contribute to the development of ulcers. Gastric ulcers can also be caused by stress, both environmental and physical.
Gastric Ulcer Symptoms:
Clinical signs of gastric ulcers can be subtle but the following can be indications of the condition:
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Poor body condition
- Deficient hair coat
- Poor performance
- Attitude or temperament changes
- Mild colic
It is important to consult with your vet if you are concerned that your horse may be suffering from gastric ulcers to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
There are a number of treatments available ranging in price and action, with being based on three main principles; either  reduce acid production,  buffer the acid produced and/or  protect the lining of the stomach form the impact of the acid. As mentioned above, your vet will advise on the best course of action based on your horse’s individual requirements. A nutritional supplement can greatly assist with all the above principles in gastric ulcer treatment.
Gastro Care is NutriScience’s offering to aid gastric ulcers. Instead of a conventional “stomach protection”, which blocks the production of stomach acid, Gastro Care acts as a buffer between stomach acid and the gastric mucosa. As a result, the vital acid production is not impaired so the stomach lining can naturally protect itself. Gastro Care contains Antacids which mimic the effects of saliva, buffer excess stomach acid and protect the gastric mucosa. Soluble fibers (apple fibre and pectin complex) supply soluble and insoluble fibres which stabilize the gastric mucosa. These fibers also neutralising bile acids, which assist in stabilizing the stomach lining. L-glutamic acid contributes to the overall health of the digestive system. Each intake provides approximately six hours of activity.