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Which horses are most prone to gastric discomfort?

Equine gastric ulcers can affect any horse at any age. Up to 90% of racehorses and 60% of show horses have gastric ulcers, but even non-performance horses and foals can be affected.1

Why do horses experience gastric discomfort?

Stress (both environmental and physical) can also increase the likelihood of ulcers. Even typical training and recreational showing have been shown to induce ulcers within a five to seven day period. Hauling and mixing groups of horses as well as horses in training, can lead to ulcers. Strenuous exercise can decrease both the emptying function of the stomach and blood flow to the stomach, thereby contributing to the problem.

Other horses at risk are those with chronic administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as phenylbutazone, flunixin meglumine or ketoprofen. These can decrease the production of the stomach’s protective mucus layer, making it more susceptible to the formation of ulcers in the glandular portion of the stomach.

1. Murray MJ, Grodinsky C, Anderson CW, et al. Gastric ulcers in horses: a comparison of endoscopic findings in horses with and without clinical signs. Equine Vet J Suppl 1989;21(Suppl 7):68–72.

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