Equine gastroscopy and upper airway endoscopy Services at Alpine Equine Hospital
There is a lot of attention given to gastric ulceration in horses in the lay press and rightfully so. Gastric ulcers are areas of erosion of the lining of the stomach and in some cases the anterior duodenum. Gastric ulcers are the result of gastric acid (hydrochloric acid secreted by parts of the stomach lining), and, to a lesser degree, the digestive enzyme pepsin, irritating the lining of the stomach, causing ulceration. In people they are commonly related to infection with the bacterium, Helicobacter Pylori, but no infectious cause of gastric ulcers has been identified in horses. Similar to in people, stress is often a contributing factor towards gastric ulceration in horses. Other risk factors for ulcer development in horses include intensive management/stabling, episodic feeding of large, carbohydrate rich feedstuffs and high levels of exertion and the use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for musculoskeletal lameness conditions.
The symptoms of gastric ulceration regardless of the cause are often vague and non-specific but can include unthriftiness, poor hair coat, episodic colic, poor performance, decreased appetite, weight loss and cinchy behavior. The definitive diagnosis of gastric ulceration is performed by gastroscopy in which a flexible 3 meter endoscope is passed through the nose and into the stomach and allows the operator to visualize the lining of the stomach and look for signs of ulceration.
Give us a call if your horse is showing any vague issues similar to gastric pain and/or ulcers.