Stress and Gas­tric Ul­cers

Practical Horseman - - Cross Country -

Gas­tric ul­cers are a com­mon re­sult of chronic stress and cause a large amount of anx­i­ety for own­ers. Un­for­tu­nately, ul­cers of­ten go un­di­ag­nosed un­til the ef­fects be­come se­ri­ous. Cor­ti­sol, a hor­mone re­leased by the adrenal glands dur­ing stress, re­duces the pro­duc­tion of the hor­mone prostaglandin, which then low­ers the Ph (in­creases the acid­ity) of the stom­ach. In turn, the stom­ach’s pro­tec­tive mu­cous lining is less ef­fec­tive and sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age. The de­vel­op­ment of le­sions (open sores or wounds) on the stom­ach lining may cause ab­dom­i­nal pain, re­duced ap­petite, colic and poor body con­di­tion.

The only way to defini­tively di­ag­nose gas­tric ul­cers is by pass­ing an en­do­scope (a flex­i­ble tube that al­lows a vet­eri­nar­ian to see in­side the body) through the nose to the stom­ach. Gas­trog­ard ® and Ul­cer­gard ® , whose ac­tive in­gre­di­ent is omepra­zole, are the only FDA-ap­proved med­i­ca­tions for treat­ment and preven­tion of gas­tric ul­cers and work to in­hibit the pro­duc­tion of ex­cess stom­ach acid. In ad­di­tion to med­i­cal care, it is also im­por­tant to at­tempt to iden­tify the cause of ul­cers to avoid re­cur­rence.

With a vet­eri­nar­ian’s rec­om­men­da­tion, horses prone to de­vel­op­ing ul­cers may re­ceive pre­ven­tive doses of omepra­zole prior to ex­po­sure to stress­ful con­di­tions. There are also many daily sup­ple­ments on the mar­ket that claim to re­duce stom­ach acid or act as stom­ach buf­fers, coat­ing and pro­tect­ing the del­i­cate stom­ach lining. Feed sup­ple­ments are not sub­ject to FDA test­ing, there­fore, be­fore us­ing one, check with your vet­eri­nar­ian or se­lect a sup­ple­ment that has peer-re­viewed re­search avail­able to back up its claims.

The only ac­cu­rate way a vet­eri­nar­ian can di­ag­nose gas­tric ul­cers is by us­ing an en­do­scope (a 3-me­ter long flex­i­ble lighted cam­era), which is passed through the horse’s nose and can al­low a di­rect ex­am­i­na­tion of the stom­ach lining.

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