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Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in Horses: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in Horses: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

There are no specific symptoms that point to gastric ulcers that may encourage and ultimately cause ulcers. This doesn’t make it easy for animal owners, who must balance prevention against their horses’ daily routine. Today our Mount Vernon vets explain gastric ulcers and what to look out for in your horse.

Gastric Ulcer Syndrome:

The usual term for this is EGUS, which is short for equine gastric ulcer syndrome. Gastric ulcers develop where lesions occur, caused by injuries to the mucous membrane of the stomach.

A distinction is made between three different forms of injury:

  • inflammation
  • erosion 
  • ulcers

EGUS, meanwhile, is "only" the generic term for this problem. Depending on the occurrence, ESGUS (equine squamous gastric ulcer syndrome) and EGGUS (equine glandular gastric ulcer syndrome) may be present.

This distinction is important due to different approaches during later treatment, so it is important to contact your Mount Vernon vets right away for a consultation.


Stress is the number one cause of ulcers in horses. Stress is now a very far-reaching term, but it can be described as a disturbance factor in the desired physical equilibrium of the horse. In practice, stress leads to reduced blood circulation in the mucous membranes and increased production of gastric acid.

Signs and Symptoms:

Since there are no specific symptoms that would signal gastric ulcers and stomach inflammation, the horse’s caretaker must pay close attention to the animal's behavior, feed intake, and physical signs.

These signs include:

  • reduced appetite,
  • weight loss, 
  • drop in performance, 
  • a dull coat
  • stereotypies such as cribbing, weaving, or wood chewing
They also include behavioral changes. Horses and ponies love routine in their daily activity. An important part of this daily routine is a greeting when you enter the yard.

Treatment and Prevention:

There are many factors in the causes of gastritis and gastric ulcers. Similar to symptoms, there is no single cause, but rather a combination of several factors that facilitate an occurrence and make it difficult to set priorities for effective prevention – whereby feeding management, which too often includes periods of excessive length between feeding, should certainly not be underestimated.

In addition to availability, rations also play a decisive role: too much-concentrated feed may lead to metabolic disorders.

If you are concerned that your horse may have an ulcer, contact our Mount Vernon vets today for a consultation.

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Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Mount Vernon is accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about the health of Mount Vernon cats, dogs, and horses. Get in touch today to book your animal's first appointment.

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