Stomach ulcers are common among all groups of horses, regardless of their discipline. Certain factors can predispose horses to developing stomach ulcers including long periods of time without forage, training stress, trailering, and certain medications. Symptoms of stomach ulcers vary, but can include poor performance, decreased appetite and weight loss, changes in behavior, and colic. The only way to definitively diagnose stomach ulcers in a horse is to have a gastroscopy performed.
The procedure is minimally invasive and involves passing a 3 meter scope through the horse’s nostril and down into the stomach. The camera on the end of the scope allows the doctor to visualize the lining of the stomach and its contents on a screen that can also be viewed by the owner. If gastric ulcers are found, the doctor will then be able to discuss with the owner and come up with a plan for treatment and prevention.