How to Treat Stomach Ulcers in Horses

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A stomach ulcer in a horse is a painful sloughing of the lining of the stomach which can cause behavioral and health issues in the affected animal. Stomach ulcers, also referred to as equine gastric ulcer syndrome, have many causes such as overfeeding, underfeeding, sparse or infrequent grazing, changes in diet, extended use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and stress. How a stomach ulcer is treated is dependent upon both the cause and the severity of the ulcer

Call your veterinarian. As most stomach ulcers are painful and require drug therapy to treat immediately, the vet will need to prescribe an appropriate and fast-acting product to make the horse more comfortable.

Administer the drug. Most ulcer medications are presented in a paste form, much like a wormer. To administer the drug, set the dosage on the syringe by locking the stop ring on the plunger to the appropriate dose measurement for your horse. Holding the horse's halter in one hand, insert the syringe into the horse's mouth in the toothless area where a bit would normally be placed. Make sure the syringe is as far back as it will go, or you risk having the medication spit back out onto you! Depress the syringe until the plunger stops to administer the drug at the back of the mouth. You may wish to hold the horse's head in an elevated position until the drug is swallowed.

Examine the possible causes of the ulcer as you continue daily drug therapy. Check the frequency and quality of hard feed and of forage and make adjustments if necessary.

Assess the horse's living situation. Has he been exposed to stress for any reason? Stress can be caused by small actions, such as new pasture mates, or bigger actions such as moving barns. Remove the causes of stress.

Monitor the horse's work. Overworking or starting a more regimented training program can cause stress, which in turn can cause ulcers. If a work routine has changed drastically, this may need to be altered to prevent a recurrence of ulcers.

After three weeks of drug therapy, the vet should be called to examine the horse again. The horse will likely have an endoscopic exam to determine how well the ulcers are healing and whether drug treatment should be continued.

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