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Although clinical signs of gastric ulcers in horses are subtle, the condition is quite common with some estimates suggesting nearly 50% of foals, and one out of every three stabled horses, may suffer from the condition. In addition, it is estimated that between 90% – 100% of racehorses and up to 60% of show horses suffer from ulcers.
Causes of stomach complaints in horses
There are a number of reasons why may ulcers occur. A horse in pasture can graze twenty two out of twenty four hours. The horse is constantly producing hydrochloric acid and this continuous grazing means the stomach is rarely empty and the acid has a lesser effect on the stomach lining. A stabled horse, however, may only be fed two to three times a day, resulting in an empty stomach over longer periods. This can lead to a build-up of acid and over-exposure of the stomach lining. Also, a stabled horse is more likely to be in work and this work means that splashing can occur internally on the stomach wall as the horse is moving while being exercised.
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The type of feed is also an important factor. For example, roughage, because it requires more chewing, will produce more saliva enabling the horse to neutralise the excess acid in the stomach.
Symptoms of ulcers in horses
Clinical signs can be difficult to detect, but any of the following symptoms can indicate the presence of ulcers:
- poor appetite
- weight loss
- poor body condition
- deficient hair/coat
- poor performance
- attitude/temperament changes
- mild colic
The successful treatment of horse ulcers may include some, or all, of the following key approaches:
- reduce acid production
- buffer the acid produced
- protect the lining of the stomach from the impact of the acid
GastroCare works as an antacid to aid gastric health by both buffering and neutralising the effects of acid on the stomach lining, without interfering with the horse’s natural acid production. Its soluble fibres absorb some of the excess acid, while glutamine can aid the regeneration of the stomach lining. Its unique formula can help to maintain normal acid levels in the horse’s gut. GastroCare contains natural buffers plus L-Glutamine to help counteract the effects of modern feeding practices on horse health.