Ulcers | Stomach & Colonic | Horses
Ulcers | Stomach & Colonic | Horses.
Horse Properties for sale in the Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree, Rio Verde Foothills Arizona
You may wonder why I would post the information of ongoing study and to date, results, of an uncontrolled but practical analysis of stomach and colonic ulcers in horses in a site that is primarily used to educate the public about real estate for sale in the areas of Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree and Rio Verde Foothills.
First and foremost, I am a real estate expert in the areas of Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree and Rio Verde Foothills…but an integral part of the sale of horse properties for sale in Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree, Rio Verde involve horses and people that the horses are a lifestyle for. With the abundance of open land, Tonto Verde National Forest and McDowell Mountain Regional Park, this area is a mecca for foreign investors migrating here for the winter as well as a hub for reining, dressage, gaited horses, arabians and the hunter jumper disciplines in addition to those that just enjoy trail riding across the desert.
My personal discipline is the working cowhorse discipline.
This discipline is actually comprised of three disciplines up to age 5, for those that participate in futurities and derby’s, such as the Snaffle Bit Futurity. A 5 and under horse competing in a futurity or derby will compete in herd work (cutting), rein work (reining) and fence work.
As these young horses are subjected to a lot of wear and tear utilizing their muscles, joints and mind, with this goes an inordinate amount of mental stress. This stress often times will result in ulcers, which will impact their attitude, eating and overall well being. As ulcers are internal, they can be difficult to diagnose without employing endoscopy techniques for stomach ulcers. Colonic ulcers in horses are not readily accessible via present diagnostic techniques but have been observed during necropsies.
From our experience, ulcers, their onset and formation can occur due to a number of outside influences including, but not limited to diet and stress. I will walk you through what we discovered about the onset, treatment and results of what we found. Several animals we own and compete with have been observed with the following visual signs.
1) Excessive water intake sometimes in the amounts of 30-40 gallons per day.
2) Rough hair coat, dry hair, shedding late
3) Irritable disposition while riding, general irritableness, sometimes to the edge of beligerance in extreme situations
4) Lack of appetite, intermittent eating, especially of grain and grain products
5) In extreme cases a horse may actually throw themselves on the ground in an attempt to escape the pain
Of these symptoms, the most noticeable will be the excessive water intake. Our conclusion is that the excessive water intake, also referred to as polydipsia, is a non-medical condition that is defined as being thirsty. It is our observation that this condition arises in stomach ulcers as the excessive water will dilute the acidity of the stomach, providing some relief to the pain.
Depending upon your area of the country, you will have access to alfalfa or grass hay. While grass hay is available in Scottsdale, alfalfa is typically the roughage of choice.
Alfalfa has a higher percentage of calcium that is available to neutralize the acid content of the stomach. Grass hays tend to be higher in starch and more readily convertible to sugars, increasing the acid content of the stomach during the fermentation and digestive process. On the other hand as a counter to the starch/sugar content and its influence with VFA’s, there are reports of people soaking their grass hay to create more volume in the stomach and with the extra water due to the soaking, again the assumption is that the soaked hay will increase the mass in stomach, dilute the acid volume of the stomach, and possibly serve to further absorb the acid volume in the stomach. These options treat the symptoms but do not treat the ulcers.
Grains and processed feeds can contribute to the formation of stomach and colonic ulers
In processed feeds steam is utilized during the processing changing the natural balance of the of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. Omega -3’s are anti-inflammatory agents, while Omega 6’s are react just the opposite, encouraging inflammation. Utilizing steam, the Omega 3-s are decreased while the Omega-6’s are not impacted, actually encouraging the effect of the inflammatory agents and offsetting the natural balance of the two Omega’s.
Natural grains such as oats, corn and barley are high in starch. During the digestive process the starches are converted to sugars. The fermentation process of digestion of these starches to sugars contributes to the acidity of the stomach aggravating the existing ulcers and encouraging the formation of new ulcers. Sweet feed mixtures tend to add to the already imbalance of sugars and digestion.
Mental Factors in Young Horses As it Relates to Training Demands
In our discipline, Working Cowhorse, young horses are subjected to the 3 disciplines that comprise the event. This is cutting, reining and fence work. Each discipline has its own rigorous technical and physical requirements which can quickly lead to burnout of the animal. With the stress of the training in a high demand sport, coupled with the imbalanced rations, the horse can quickly develop ulcers, either stomach or colonic, or both. The constant pain including the mental demands of the sport can push a horse “over the edge” very quickly and result in unexplained training issues. Additionally, physical overuse and muscle/tendon/ligament strains also create and contribute to an already existing pain cycle.
Treating Physical and Mental Aspects of Horses in High Stress Training Situations Through Diet
As we have had horses that have a preponderance to developing ulcers, research was done through various nutritional supplement and drug means to attempt to arrive at a daily maintenance that will treat and cure the ulcerative condition. Looking at the treatment methods currently available, omeprazole has been the first line of defense. Omeprazole is an hydrogen pump inhibitor that blocks the stomach mechanism in the creation of stomach acid. The theory is that stopping the acid production will allow the stomach ulcers to heal. There are various doses of omeprazole from treatment to maintenance levels. One has to wonder what effect the blocking of the natural acid production actually has on digestion and does this cause more problems.
Omeprazole has been found to be effective in the healing of stomach ulcers, but appears to have little if any effect on colonic ulcers from our experience. Colonic ulcers are not identifiable by endoscopy at this time. We have found that Sucralfate, in combination with Omeprazole appear to be very sound therapy in healing all types ulcers. Sucralfate comes in a tablet form. We have utilized a coffee grinderto grind the tablets, mixing this with Dr. Pepper
and administering orally in a 60cc syringe with the tip cut off and the hole opened with a drill bit. Sucralfate mixed in this manner is readily accepted by the horses and we find that over time, they will nurse from the syringe and look forward to its administration. When we see the intial signs of ulcers, we will administer both Omeprazole and Sucralfate orally. Sucralfate needs to be given on an empty stomach 3 times per day, Omeprazole, once daily. We space the timing out over the course of a day and an evening so that we have at least a 2 hour window between dosages.
The Role of the Ration in the Prevention of Ulcers
In the use of the higher cost processed feeds, we anticipated some gastric support from additives. What we later found was that in the processing of the feeds utilizing steam, Omega-3’s are depleted while Omega-6’s are not, thereby creating an imbalance of ratios and encouraging inflammation. The goal then was to find a ration and supplements that restored that balance. Our solution was feeding Rice Bran in combination with over the counter supplements.
Rice Bran comes in two formats, stabilized and unstabilized, powder and pellet. We opted to utilize unstabilized and pelleted over the powder form. Rice Bran was selected on the basis of little if any starch, high in fat and high in protein. The Omega-3 and Omega-6 ratios are in balance.
As a supplement, we chose to use Platinum. Platinum has a veritable wealth of research behind their mixture and we consulted with them directly about the ulcer issues. Additionally, we included the supplement made by Platinum, Platinum Gastric Support.
In the case of severe cases of training stress, we also incorporated Mag Restore to restore balance levels of magnesium within the muscles. In some cases, we found this to complement the ration as any sort of pain causes stress, ultimately contributing to ulcer development.
To date, this approach seems to result in fewer training issues, better overall mental health and happier horses. All of this contributes to less stress and less injury to the animals.
Again, the purpose of this is to share with you information that we have obtained practically, in an uncontrolled setting. As a disclaimer, I am not a Veterinarian nor an Animal Nutritionist. You should consult with your Veterinarian or experts in their respective fields first before utilizing any of these supplements, drugs or feeding practices……but it has worked well for us with our horses in the Scottsdale area.
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