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  • Dr K.

Feel the burn

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

Today's post is something that gets talked about a lot but acted upon very little. It's ulcers.

Stomach of the horse, non glandular (squamous) portion is the upper half, glandular portion is the lower half.

Our understanding of ulcers has come on in leaps and bounds during the past decades and we have become more sophisticated in how we describe the condition. The stomach is basically divided into two halves, the upper half is the squamous or non glandular portion. The lower is the glandular - this produces the acid. The squamous can become eroded if it comes into contact with the acid from the glandular portion.



Most horse owners are aware of the condition now referred to equine squamous gastric disease (ESGD) which is typically related to management strategies or high doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


Erosion in the squamous portion of the stomach.

But we now know there are far more horses with ulcers in the glandular (acid producing) region of the stomach than we had ever realized.

This disease is referred to as equine glandular gastric disease (EGGD).


Here is what the latest research tells us.

  • Warmblood horses appear to be at higher risk for developing EGGD.

  • Horses with multiple riders/caretakers are at higher risk of EGGD.

  • Stress itself does not appear to induce EGGD but an individuals response to stressful situations may play a role.

Whether it is EGGD or ESGD, as a rider or caretaker what can you do to prevent?

  • Feed forage 30 mins prior to exercise.

  • Turn out as often as possible as long as this is not stressful.

  • Avoid changes in personnel and equine companions.

  • Factor in at least 2 rest days per week.


What should you be on the look out for?

There are subtle differences between the signs your horse may show between EGGD and ESGD but this list should give you a general overview.

  • Changes in temperament

  • Changes in rideability

  • Weight loss

  • Loss of appetite

  • Hypersensitivity around the flanks or girth

  • Mild or recurrent colic

  • Poor coat condition

  • Cribbing or windsucking

  • Grinding teeth

If you suspect your horse has either EGGD or ESGD it is important to have them evaluated via gastroscopy. Treating without having a gastroscopic diagnosis can be a false economy. EGGD and ESGD have very similar signs but they have different treatment recommendations.

Without gastroscopy owners can be undertreating or repeating treatments for years on the presumption they have recurring ESGD but in fact have EGGD which has never successfully resolved because they are using the wrong treatment.

Left undiagnosed and untreated ulcers can have significant health and welfare implications for your horse.

Ulcer in the glandular portion of the stomach. Image from UK Vet Equine EGGD Consesus Statement

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