Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome
Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome is a disease associated with injury to the inner lining of the oesphagus, stomach and the upper part of the intestine.
The horse produces a steady flow of stomach acid to aid in digestion. Their naturally acidic stomach contents are buffered by saliva produced in response to regular eating and by the food itself.
Domestication (e.g. stabling, restricted grazing) has reduced the time our horses spend eating - resulting in prolonged periods when the stomach is empty and reduced production of saliva. In addition feeding grain (rather than roughage) can produce types of acid which contribute to the already acidic environment of the stomach.
The causes of gastric ulceration in horses are based on many factors and are not completely understood; however, an increase in stomach acid or the susceptibility to existing acid is thought to play a role.
There are two main types of ‘ulceration’, those that occur in the top half of the stomach known as ‘Equine Squamous Gastric Disease’ (ESGD) and those in the bottom half, ‘Equine Glandular Gastric Disease’ (EGGD). The two halves of the stomach have very different functions and the cause of ulceration is likely to be different in each.
The symptoms of gastric ulcers in adult horses can be vague and are not always very obvious. They can include poor appetite, colic, poor body condition, poor performance and changes in attitude and behaviour.
Treatment includes a combination of management changes and medication.
Bell RJ, et al. (2007) Equine gastric ulcer syndrome in adult horses: a review. NZ Vet J; 55 (1): 1-12.
Picavet M-Th (2002). Equine gastric ulcer syndrome. Proceedings of the First European Equine Nutrition & Health Congress. February 9. Antwerp Zoo, Belgium