South Shore Equine Clinic & Diagnostic Center
Equine Veterinary Services South Shore Boston Massachusetts

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Bits & Pieces: July 2008

EQUINE GASTRIC ULCER SYNDROME (EGUS)

The incidence of equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) is steadily increasing and is recognized as a major problem in horses and foals.  Over 90% of racehorses and 60% of show horses have gastric ulcers.  Approximately 50% of horses with gastric ulcers show no outward signs, despite significant ulceration of their stomach.

Typical clinical signs of stomach ulcers in adult horses include attitude change, dullness, poor performance, poor appetite, poor condition, colic, and behavioral changes.  Foals with stomach ulcers can show diarrhea, poor growth, rough hair coat, pot belly appearance, teeth grinding, colic, lying on their back, excessive salivation, or interrupted nursing.

There are several factors that increase your horse’s risk for developing gastric ulcers.  Infrequent grazing or reduced hay intake will cause excessive acid accumulation in a horse’s stomach, leading to ulcers.  Intense exercise and training can increase acid production in the stomach.  Physical stress that horses and foals experience when sick, hospitalized, or in pain can also cause ulcers.  Shipping, spending extended amounts of time in stalls and competing can all predispose horses to developing ulcers.

The only definitive way to diagnose gastric ulcers is through use of a 3 meter video endoscope, a service that we can provide for your horse.  Often it is clear only in hindsight, after treatment, how ulcers have negatively affected your horse’s performance.  Fortunately, gastric ulcers are treatable with anti-ulcer medication, dietary changes and environmental management.  With so much invested into your horse, why let gastric ulcers get in the way of success?

Click here for a presentation on: Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS)

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