e-Science : October 2015 Issue 15
The problem at hand Equine gastric ulceration syndrome is a very common condition, especially in horses that are in active work. Over 90% of racehorses are reported to have some degree of ulceration compared with 37-66% of sport and leisure horses. Symptoms of ulcers include signs of colic (“stomach ache” in horses), weight loss, behavioural issues and reduced performance. However, in many cases the problem may go unnoticed and hence remains untreated. Click for slideshow Ulcers can develop in both regions of the stomach but are most common in the squamous region, which lacks the protection from the acidic contents of the glandular region. One of the biggest risk factors for the development of EGUS is inappropriate feeding practices. Horses in the wild will spend the vast majority of the day grazing. When a horse is eating there is a continuous production of saliva, which helps to buffer the gastric acid. However, modern management practices mean that horses are frequently stabled and do not have constant access to forage. Transporting horses to events also poses a risk for ulcer development as prolonged periods without feed and water similarly cause the stomach contents to become more acidic. Intense exercise is also a risk factor; during galloping the pressure in the horse’s abdomen increases, compressing the stomach and causing acid to splash onto the unprotected squamous portion of the stomach and resulting in ulcer development. Ulceration in the protected glandular region is less common but still of concern, as ulcers in this part of the stomach are easier to miss and more difficult to treat. Although defence mechanisms are in place to protect the glandular region, these can be overwhelmed under certain circumstances and this can lead to the development of ulcers. Strenuous exercise, stress and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can all lead to the stomach’s defences being overcome, by decreasing blood supply to the area and reducing the production of mucus.
July 2015 Issue 14
Feb 2016 Issue 16