What are hindgut ul­cers?

Dressage Today - - Content - •CHRISTINA RUSSILLO, DVM

Are hindgut ul­cers the same thing as stom­ach ul­cers? If not, what is the dif­fer­ence and how can a horse owner safely dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the two? Name with­held by re­quest

Christina “Cricket” Russillo, DVM

grad­u­ated from the Tufts Univer­sity School of Vet­eri­nary Medicine in 2001. Fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion, she com­pleted a large an­i­mal medicine and surgery in­tern­ship at Texas A&M and re­al­ized her de­sire was to work on elite sport horses. Af­ter 13 years of prac­tice at Fairfield Equine As­so­ciates in New­town, Con­necti­cut, fo­cus­ing on high­level show-jump­ing and dres­sage horses, she joined Vir­ginia Equine Imag­ing in June 2015. Russillo re­lo­cates to Florida ev­ery win­ter to sup­port her clients and pa­tients in Welling­ton and the sur­round­ing ar­eas. She is a mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety for Equine Lo­co­mo­tor Pathol­ogy and hopes to at­tain cer­ti­fi­ca­tion next year. In Fe­bru­ary 2017, Russillo was ap­pointed the U.S. Dres­sage Team vet­eri­nar­ian. In ad­di­tion to her busy sched­ule fo­cused on sports medicine, she en­joys spend­ing time out­doors with her hus­band and daugh­ter. She has com­peted through Third Level and loves to play ten­nis.

CRICKET RUSSILLO, DVM

No, hindgut ul­cers are not the same as stom­ach ul­cers. The term “hindgut” refers to the seg­ment of a horse’s in­testines that fol­lows the small in­tes­tine. Hindgut ul­cers are typ­i­cally lo­cated in the right dor­sal colon, as op­posed to ul­cer­a­tions in the stom­ach (also called gas­tric ul­cers). Fol­low­ing are ways to help you dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the two and rea­sons why you should know the dif­fer­ence.

How would I know if my horse has hindgut ul­cers? The signs of hindgut ul­cers are var­ied and the de­gree to which a horse is af­fected will usu­ally con­trib­ute to which of these signs your horse shows. But the sim­plest sign to watch out for is loose ma­nure. That can be any­where on the spec­trum from true di­ar­rhea to nor­mal-formed ma­nure with just a liq­uid com­po­nent ex­pressed at the same time. A sim­ple tell­tale sign that should make an owner sus­pi­cious that her horse may be suf­fer­ing from hindgut ul­cers is ma­nure stains along

the in­ner thighs and on the tail.

Why do hindgut ul­cers mat­ter for my per­for­mance horse? In­flam­ma­tion of the colon can con­trib­ute to ir­ri­tabil­ity, weight loss and poor per­for­mance.

What should I do if I sus­pect my horse has hindgut ul­cers? Your vet­eri­nar­ian is al­ways the best place to start when you are con­cerned about a pos­si­ble health is­sue. The most ac­cu­rate way to di­ag­nose the con­di­tion is through a com­bi­na­tion of trans­ab­dom­i­nal ul­tra­sound and blood­work, but even these tests can yield in­con­sis­tent re­sults. And while di­ag­no­sis of hindgut ul­cers can be chal­leng­ing, there are some sim­ple di­etary changes that can help a horse im­me­di­ately.

Is there some­thing I can do to pre­vent the devel­op­ment of hindgut ul­cers? There is cur­rently no med­i­ca­tion that can pre­vent hindgut ul­cers from form­ing. Our best de­fense is sup­port­ing a healthy di­ges­tive tract and min­i­miz­ing stress and in­flam­ma­tion in the colon, where it can pro­mote a lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment that po­ten­ti­ates the risk for ul­cers de­vel­op­ing. Strate­gies in­clude us­ing pro­bi­otics and pre­bi­otics, avoid­ing ex­cess di­etary starch, feed­ing read­ily di­gestible fiber sources and prod­ucts that di­rectly nour­ish the lin­ing of the colon through the pro­duc­tion of its pre­ferred en­ergy source.

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