How do you prevent gastric ulcers in horses?
Another popular question we often get is how do you prevent gastric ulcers in horses?
As EGUS is a complex syndrome, it is not often possible to give exact, concise answers, but below are common things to try and see if it helps your horse have reoccurring ulcers.
One of the most common causes of equine gastric ulcers is stress.
- Maximize the time your horse spends eating forage. A horse’s stomach produces acid continuously, even when he’s not eating. The longer a horse has to wait between meals, the more acid will accumulate in his stomach. You should try and minimise the sugar content of forage, even if you need to soak or steam it first.
- Reduce the amount of cereal-based hard feeds if possible, especially if your horse is not in competition level work. These have high levels of sugars, which help form ulcers.
- Stick to routines as much as possible. Nothing stresses a horse more than an abrupt change in routine. This could be anything from changing feed suddenly, changing the time of feeds, changing herd dynamics by suddenly removing another horse or adding another horse without a gradual change could trigger a stressor.
- Take care to not over-medicate, specifically with NSAIDS, as these have been shown to increase the risk of ulcers.
Things to try to minimise stress
- If routine needs to change, change it gradually.
- If your horse is bored, get it something to play with inside its stable, be it a ball, or a hanging ball. Trial and error will find the right thing.
- Haynets at night – try get one that has smaller holes (not too small!). This will encourage them to take longer to get the forage out, will keep them occupied longer and will encourage longer chewing times, which produces saliva which helps coat their stomach lining.
- Only use NSAIDS as long as it is needed.