Gastroscopy is a valuable veterinary tool that uses a flexible video endoscope to examine the equine esophagus and stomach. This uncomplicated procedure is performed while the horse is under light sedation. Sedation is not needed to control pain, but to instead to control the "ticklish" feeling your horse may experience as the small (1 cm) endoscope is passed through their nose. A gastroscope is the only way to accurately diagnose the presence and severity of stomach ulcers in horses. It can also be used to identify stomach impactions, parasites, tumors and other abnormalities.
Could My Horse Have Ulcers?
Ulcers are a very under-recognized problem in horses. Most owners do not realize that foals, adult horses, pleasure horses and performance horses are all at-risk for developing gastric ulcers. According to the AAEP, "Gastric ulcers have been reported to range from 25-50% in foals and 60-90% in adult horses, depending on age, performance, and evaluated populations."
Here Are Some Indications That May Warrant a Gastroscope:
- Lack of appetite or weight loss
- Teeth grinding
- Girthiness or discomfort around flanks (dislike of brushing / blanketing)
- Decreased performance or change in attitude
- Colic or continuous colic symptoms
- Chronic, loose stools
Treat and Prevent:
At Countryside, we do not believe in blindly treating horses for ulcers for several reasons. First, we do not want you to invest in an expensive treatment for a horse that does not even have ulcers. Secondly, we don't want to prolong any suffering for the horse. There are several different types and grades of equine ulcers that require different levels and lengths of treatment. We want the best result and outcome for you and your horse. Once your horse is diagnosed, medication and lifestyle changes will be necessary. We are here to guide you through this process and we will recommend an exercise and feeding program for your horse.
Did you know that horses are designed to be grazers?
A frequent intake of roughage will help neutralize stomach acids and decrease the risk for ulcers.