February 01 2011, Article # 17751
There's no cure-all for equine gastric ulcer syndrome, but proper management and prevention methods can help your horse remain ulcer-free .
What could the following three situations all have in common?
You return home from a horse show after a disappointing weekend. Your elite performance horse, usually high in the ribbons, did not place well. He occasionally looks at his sides and appears uncomfortable. You have a young, excitable filly that was recently weaned. A normally robust and outgoing foal, she is now standing in her stall, uninterested in either interacting with humans or eating her grain. Your mature gelding that lives on lush pasture recently went through a mild bout of laminitis. He's always been a stoic fellow and rarely shows when he's in pain. Now, his hair coat is dull, and he seems to be "depressed." What might be surprising to some is that while these clinical signs could point to a number of problems, all three of these horses could be diagnosed with the same condition: equine gastric ulcer syndrome.
History and Signs
Equine gastric ulcer syndrome includes not only ulcers found within the stomach (usually in the esophageal region, or upper portion), but also ulcers found at the duodenal part of the small intestine, which is the portion closest to the stomach. Ulcers occur when the pH of these gastrointestinal tract areas becomes too acidic, and cells of the lining are damaged. The primary acid of digestion in the stomach, hydrochloric acid, is produced and released continuously into the stomach of the horse, unlike in humans, where it is produced only when food is present. Horses produce almost 1.5 liters/hour of this acid because they have evolved as continuous eaters, or grazers...
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