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Unfortunately, ulcers are a common issue in horses. According to studies up to 90% of racehorses and 60% of show horses have gastric ulcers to varying degrees.
What Gastroscopy Can Diagnose
Gastroscopy is a procedure our vet uses to diagnose ulcers because it's the only way to accurately diagnose an ulcer and determine the type. Two main types of ulcers exist, and testing for them through stool samples isn't as accurate.
Additionally, our vets can use it to diagnose other conditions such as stomach impactions, tumors, and other upper GI tract problems.
Treating Issues After Gastroscopy
For ulcers, the standard treatment is medication or a combination of medications depending on the type and location(s) of the lesions. The two main medications used to treat gastric ulcers are Omeprazole (Gastroguard) and Misoprostol. Gastroguard is a protein pump inhibitor. It reduces the amount of acid your horse's stomach produces. Misoprostol is a treatment that can also treat stomach ulcers, being a bit more effective on ulcers present in the glandular mucosa and at the pylorus. These two medications work synergistically. Other medications we frequently use are Sucralfate which is a gastroprotectant that acts like a band-aid to cover ulcers and mechanically protect them from the acidic stomach fluids. Occasionally we will add in an antibiotic such as Minocycline if we suspect a bacterial component preventing thorough healing.
If your horse is exhibiting potential symptoms of gastric ulcers we encourage you to contact our office. We can help your horse get back to feeling like his or herself.
To learn more about a gastroscopy procedure for your horse, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at (978) 891-5780.