Just like people, stress and a poor diet can cause ulcers in horses. Symptoms can include poor appetite or fussy eating, teeth grinding or sensitivity in the girth area. Incorporate these tips in your horse care program to help prevent ulcers.
Feed Small, Frequent Meals
Horses that are kept on pasture or in the wild are able to keep a constant flow of forage moving through their digestive system. When horses are kept in stalls, we regulate their eating schedule to meet our needs, usually giving them two or three large meals a day. When the food is gone and your horse’s stomach empties between meals, his stomach acid has the chance to form ulcers. Forage helps absorb your horse’s stomach acid so keeping forage available as much as possible can help reduce the chance for ulcers.
Horses are meant to move around throughout the day. Confinement in a stall can be stressful for some horses and lead to an ulcer. Maximize the amount of time your horse spends in turnout each day. If you have grass pastures for turnout, not only will he move around and be less stressed, but this will also provide your horse with plenty of food moving through his digestive system.
There are ulcer preventatives available that can be fed daily to your horse to help maintain a healthy digestive system. Other drug therapies such as FDA-approved omeprazole will work for a horse that has ulcers.
On the other hand, anti-inflammatory drugs to treat other injuries can contribute to ulcers so be careful when medicating.
Maintain A Routine
Horses are creatures of habit and even a small change to their routine can be stressful to them and trigger an ulcer. Try to keep feeding, exercise and turnout times as consistent as possible. Schedule any horse shows, especially those you have to trailer to, with enough time between them for your horse to relax.
Finally, don’t forget to consult with your vet to keep your horse healthy and ulcer-free.