Gastric Ulcers : symptoms and treatment

Gastric Ulcers affect a surprising 63% of performance horses and around 37% of leisure riding horses, including ponies and foals. The condition is potentially serious and will require careful treatment by your vet. Ulcers are caused by prolonged exposure to acid in the stomach which causes erosion to the stomach lining.

What are the symptoms of Equine Gastric Ulcers

Oddly, the symptoms of gastric ulcers are not easy to recognise but they may include one or more of the following: behaviour changes, poor appetite, dull coat, poor performance, weight loss, recurrent colic.

What causes equine gastric ulcers

Factors which may increase the risk of gastric ulcers are

  • High carbohydrate diet
  • Prolonged periods without food
  • Stress i.e. relocation, transportation, hospitalisation
  • Exercise - during exercise the acidic contents of the lower part of the stomach may be forced into the acid-sensitive portion of the stomach.
  • Certain medication
  • Equine Gastric Ulcers Treatment From Vet In Northumberland - Bearl EquineWhat can the vet do?

A gastroscope is used to confirm diagnosis and allow treatment to begin. Your vet will pass a small camera through the horse or ponies nasal passage into the stomach to look at the condition of the lining of the stomach. Don't worry the patient will be sedated during the process. Once a diagnosis is made treatment will begin to stablise the stomach environment allowing ulcers to heal.

What Can You do?

You can help to reduce the potential for gastric ulcers by:

  • Allowing access in the stable for socialisation - if this is not possible consider a equine mirror
  • Providing ad-lib hay, haylage or grass
  • Feed little and often
  • Cutting down on high carbohydrate feed
  • Use a product recommended by your vet before a know period of stress such as relocation.


We are lucky to have a state of the art gastroscope here at the clinic. The three metre long scope reaches far into the stomach and duodenum. The process is quick and takes about 20 minutes to complete and the horse stands supported by purpose built stocks.

If you suspect your horse or pony may be susceptible to gastric ulcers ask your vet to refer you to the clinic for examination.

Bearl Equine ClinicBearl FarmBywellStocksfieldNorthumberlandNE43 7AJ01661 842542find us
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In An Emergency

For emergency arrangements during evenings and week-ends, please call: 01209 823198

This number is a direct line to our out of hours emergency call centre. The operator will take details and pass information to the vet who will call you back as soon as possible.

Please use this number before 8.30am and after 5pm on week days and before 9am and after 1pm on Saturdays.


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