What Are Some Reasons For Belly Soreness And Ulcers In Horses?

Last Updated on June 18, 2022

Have you ever wondered what are some reasons for belly soreness and ulcers in horses? Ulcers are a common problem in horses that can cause discomfort and performance problems. Fortunately, they are treatable and can be preventable as well.

Gastric ulcers are a common occurrence in horses, especially racehorses. However, they can be tricky to diagnose as the signs can be subtle and inconsistent. Ulcers can develop in horses of all types and ages, ranging from mild to severe.

What Are Ulcers?

Gastric ulcers, or stomach ulcers, are sores that appear on the lining of a horse’s stomach. They are very common and can affect horses of any age, though they’re more likely to affect athletic horses that compete in racing, endurance, and showing.

Studies have shown that exercise increases gastric acid production while also decreasing blood flow to the GI tract. In addition, when horses exercise, the stomach’s acidic fluid splashes which expose the upper portion of the stomach, which is more vulnerable to an acidic pH. This in return can lead to a greater chance of a horse developing gastric ulcers.

Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) is the condition when a horse regularly develops ulcers. EGUS is most commonly seen in performance horses. They can cause discomfort in horses and if left untreated they can affect a horse’s performance.

What Are Ulcers

Causes Of Ulcers In Horses

What Are Some Reasons For Belly Soreness And Ulcers In Horses? Some of the most common causes of ulcers in horses include intense exercise, stress, overuse of anti-inflammatory drugs, and travel. In addition, inconsistent and infrequent eating, fasting, and feeding feed that does not produce enough saliva can also lead to ulcers.

Feeding a high grain diet can also lead to ulcers in some horses. In addition, limited access to water can cause them to develop as well. When a horse has a change in a social environment, whether it’s a new barn or new horses in turnout, they can also develop ulcers.

Read more about Percent Of Occlusion Dental In Horses

What Are Some Reasons For Belly Soreness And Ulcers In Horses?

There are a wide variety of reasons a horse can develop ulcers. Ulcers can also lead to belly soreness in horses as well. This is especially common in performance horses.

Some horses may become sensitive to having a saddle placed on them and their girth tightened. They may react by pinning their ears, biting, kicking, and becoming tense. Horses have a very large and very sensitive digestive system, with the hindgut taking up a large section of the belly. When horses get ulcers, specifically in the hindgut, they can develop belly soreness and become reluctant to be saddled up.

Horses may also act sensitively to being brushed and touched on their belly because of the ulcers. They may also become agitated when being ridden if the saddle and girth cause discomfort on their bellies from ulcers.

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Signs Of Ulcers In Horses

Some of the most common signs of ulcers in horses include poor appetite, dullness, changes in attitude, reluctance to perform, and decreased performance. In addition, a horse may also have poor body condition, poor coat, and girthiness.

In more serious cases, a horse may have abdominal pain, colic, diarrhea, and grinding their teeth. Horses may also appear distressed, lie down frequently, and regularly drool.

Ways To Prevent Ulcers

Though ulcers can be unpleasant, there are many ways you can help prevent them. Feed horses frequently, as they are designed to eat steadily throughout the day instead of eating big meals. In addition, consider reducing the amount of your horse’s grain and always provide access to fresh water.

Provide regular turnout when possible, as grazing and socialization are important for horses. Limit the number of anti-inflammatory drugs you give your horse. In addition, try to provide your horse with a stress-free environment and limit intense training.

Diagnosis For Ulcers

If you suspect your horse may have ulcers, contact your veterinarian and tell them the symptoms your horse is experiencing. A veterinarian can diagnose ulcers by performing a gastric endoscopy or gastroscopy, which consists of sending an endoscope into the stomach to look at its surface. This procedure is simple to perform while also being minimally invasive, allowing for the evaluation of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.

Treatment For Ulcers

Upon diagnosis, a veterinarian can provide treatment for ulcers in your horse. Omeprazole is used for the treatment of ulcers in horses. It is a paste that is administered orally to a horse.

In addition to administering omeprazole, changes in a horse style can be made to help lower the chances of ulcers developing. Other treatments such as H2 blockers and antacids can be used as well. Most horses will heal within four weeks of treatment for ulcers.

Dealing With Ulcers – What Are Some Reasons For Belly Soreness And Ulcers In Horses

Ulcers are very common in horses, especially performance horses. Fortunately, they are preventable and treatable, with environmental changes reducing the chance your horse develops them.

Do you have any questions regarding what are some reasons for belly soreness and ulcers in horses? If so, please ask any questions regarding ulcers and the effects they can have on your horse.


Why Does My Horse’s Stomach Hurt?

There are many reasons why a horse's stomach may hurt. One of the most common causes of stomach discomfort in horses is ulcers. Ulcers are sores that appear on the lining of a horse's stomach.

What Can You Do for a Horse With a Stomach Ulcer?

If your horse has a stomach ulcer, your veterinarian will likely provide treatment with omeprazole. In addition, you should limit your horse's stress, provide regular access to hay or grass, limit intense exercise and don't feed too much grain.

Does Stomach Ulcer Cause Soreness?

Stomach ulcers can cause girthiness in horses, which can cause belly soreness. Horses may kick, bite, pin back their ears and become tense when saddling up from the ulcers.

What Do You Feed a Horse Prone to Ulcers?

If your horse is prone to ulcers, provide the horse with hay or grass steadily throughout the day instead of feeding big meals. In addition, limit feeding too much grain to your horse and provide plenty of water.