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Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) causes painful stomach ulceration with signs such as poor attitude, decreased appetite, weight loss, recurrent colic, sub-optimal performance, diarrhea and dull coat. Although stomach ulcers were once thought to mainly develop only in high level performace horses, it is now understood that any horse can be susceptible to ulcers. All horse owners should be aware of how ulcers develop and the potential risk to their horses, even recreational horses.
Endoscopic examination of the stomach is used to reach a definitive diagnosis. A long (2-3metre) endoscope is required to inspect the inside of the stomach. The examination is best done after the horse is deprived of all food for 12-14 hours.
Various factors are known to increase the risk of gastric ulcers:
- Intense physical activity - During physical exertion the blood is diverted from the intestines to the skeletal muscles and skin. Gastric acid secretion increases during hard work As mentioned above, (2) exercise tends to push the acidic stomach contents up onto the non-glandular mucosa.
- Diet - Grain and pelleted rations promote higher levels of gastrin in the blood than does hay and so stimulate more acid production.. Eating hay stimulates twice as much saliva production as does eating grain.
- Stress and Illness may cause ulcers by restricting the blood flow to the mucosa
- Drug-induced - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID`s - such as phenylbutazone) are thought to exert their effects on the gastric mucosa by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis, leading to restriction of the blood supply to the glandular mucosa.
After Treatment with Ulcerguard