Gastric Ulcers account for many unhappy horses with equally unhappy owners who experience the behavioural problems that not surprisingly go with them. Now we're told that a high percentage of horses have gastric ulcers which can be brought on by stress, intensive training, medication and diet (particularly prolonged periods without forage) so we can only guess at how many of their expressions of pain have been misunderstood! Which means we welcome any research that helps us combat this painful problem in our equine partners.
The latest diet related research presented at the International Colic Symposium looked into whether a certain diet could help prevent the reoccurrence of ulcers after veterinary treatment. The 32 horses used in this study were all in hard work and had been diagnosed with significant gastric ulcers. These horses were divided into pairs according to the severity of their ulcers, workload, management and original diet. Then, during and after treatment, one horse in each pair was kept on their original diet and the other fed on a fibre-based, low starch diet of forage plus a restricted starch, high fibre, high energy cube (as they were in hard work) and a high oil, low starch, chopped alfalfa based feed.
The results showed that the horses whose diet didn't change improved significantly with veterinary treatment but many regressed once it had stopped. The horses whose diet had been changed on the other hand, showed significant improvement not only with the treatment but also maintained this improvement after the treatment had stopped. Therefore it was shown that the right diet can maintain the benefits of veterinary treatment.
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If you're wondering if your horse is suffering with ulcers then you may find this video helpful https://troton.com/32603trot-on/videos/video/3306-equine-ulcer-diagnosis-by-mark-depaolo-dvm