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Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome or “EGUS” for short, occurs when ulcers form on the stomach wall within the horse. A horse’s stomach has two portions known as the glandular and squamous region. The squamous region does not produce natural buffers from stomach acid whereas the glandular region produces bicarbonate and mucous which buffers stomach acid. Up to 80% of EGUS cases are found in the squamous region of stomach due to this difference. Horses produce stomach acid nonstop and without buffers the stomach acid can build up and erode the stomach wall causing gastric ulcers to form.

The exact pathophysiology of EGUS is unknown but risk factors commonly associated with EGUS include, non-ad-Librium feeding systems, high starch rations, high intensity training regimens, reduced turnout, long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and high stress levels.

Diagnosis of EGUS requires a veterinarian to perform a gastroscopy, after a horse is fasted for a certain number of hours to ensure the stomach is empty. A camera is passed through their nose, into the esophagus, then into the stomach, the veterinarian can view the stomach lining and determine if ulcers are present and grade them based on the severity of the present ulcers. Once diagnosed your veterinarian will determine the best treatment option for your horse. Treatment typically includes medications such as Omeprazole, Sucralfate, and Misoprostol, and management changes such as increased turnout, increased roughage, decreased concentrates, and ways to reduce stress your horse maybe encountering.

I founded Jigs & Co. to help horse owners reduce the risk of EGUS. Haytime from Jigs & Co. focuses on feeding your horse in a more natural way to help reduce time between meals. By offering smaller meals more frequently, with roughage, your horse’s stomach is less exposed to the buildup of stomach acid. Physiologic stress is reduced when your horse can eat in a more natural manner without spending long periods of time without feed. Haytime is the management change your horse needs to treat EGUS and prevent reoccurring ulcers from forming.

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