Horse Ulcers: If Tests Are Negative but Your Horse Still Hurts
What do you do if your equine friend tests negative for horse ulcers but continues to have problems? Well, he might still have horse ulcers … the tests just may not be able to detect the ulcers.
Like the term “colic,” the term “horse ulcer” covers a wide variety of issues related to the gut. The term “horse ulcer” really refers to inflammation anywhere in the digestive tract.
Types of Horse Ulcers
The gastric or stomach ulcer is the most common form, which can be diagnosed by an endoscope or by a positive response to acid-blocking medications. But horse ulcers can also occur in the small intestine or even in the hind gut. These usually will not be found by the methods discussed above. If your horse has inflammation in his gut caused by disruption in the levels of beneficial bacteria in his gut, he may also test negative for ulcers but still have a pain in his gut.
The healthy bacteria in a horse’s gut fill in all the spaces between the tiny, nutrient absorbing folds and they provide extra protection from irritating substances. When the numbers of healthy bacteria decrease the intestinal lining is more easily damaged by stomach acid, bile salts, digestive enzymes or acids formed during digestion.
Finding the Location of the Horse Ulcer
Since the symptoms of ulcers anywhere in the gut can be similar, you can more easily locate where your horse was having the problem so you can target your treatment. Knowing your horse’s Five Element Temperament Type can be a huge shortcut, since each type tends to form ulcers or have inflammation in specific areas of the gut.
Fire Horse: This type of horse is likely to have more problems in the small intestine. The prebiotic KLPP, used with or without UF, is your most effective first choice for treatment.
Earth and Wood Horses: These types are often the ones with an actual stomach ulcer. The pre- and probiotic formula APA is very helpful for ulcer prevention. Stomach Soother seems to be a great choice for Earth and Wood horses who already have ulcers.
Metal and Water Horses: These horses seem to have more issues with hind gut ulcers, which are difficult to diagnose with traditional methods. These types do well with APA and the probiotic bifidus. The product Succeed can also be a huge help for treating ulcers for these horses.
Horse Ulcers: Which Types Show Pain?
Remember that some types will show more pain relating to the inflammation in their gut. Fire and Water horses are the most dramatic about telling you that “something is wrong.” The Wood and Earth temperament types will complain but still work in pain. The Metal horse is the most stoic. He may not show any symptoms other than tightness through the ribcage but still have major inflammation in his hind gut. Should you worry about horse ulcers? Yes, especially if your horse is in work or training. It is a safe bet to say that any performance horse is dealing with some level of digestive inflammation and needs daily pre- and probiotic support appropriate to his type.
Horse Ulcers: Need More Info?
To read more about horse ulcers and how to treat them holistically in your horse, check out the articles in our online library
If you don’t know your horse’s temperament type you can find out on our free test at: www.horseharmonytest.com
About the Author
Madalyn Ward, DVM, owns Bear Creek Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas. She is certified in Veterinary Homeopathy and Equine Osteopathy.
Memberships include American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinary Medical Association and the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.
She has authored several books and publishes at her blog.