Clinic Hours:
Mon-Fri 8 to 5:30
Sat. by appointment only

31310 Woodhaven Trail
Cannon Falls, MN 55009

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Phone Numbers:
651-258-4050 office
651-258-4051 fax
651-222-0885 Twin Cities


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Equine Ulcers

For more than a decade ulcers have been linked to performance and health issues in horses. The more horses are used, the higher the incidence of ulcers. Even recreational or lesson horses can develop ulcers. New strategies for prevention and treatment are constantly being tested. Research has indicated that ulcers are caused by tissue exposure to Stomach Acid, Bile Acids and Volatile Fatty Acids (VFA’s). In just 12 hours of exposure to these substances, severe damage may occur. This often happens during stress and when the stomach is empty. It takes only 4 1/2 hours to digest grain and 10-12 hours to digest solid material such as hay. It is important to feed hay with grain to slow the digestion and keep the stomach full. VFA’s are produced from fermentation of sugars and are the biggest culprit of ulcers due to owners feeding more grain than most horses require.

Common symptoms of ulcers are: recurrent colic for 7 or more days, acute colic, poor body condition, chronic diarrhea, decreased appetite, weight loss, poor performance, poor hair coat, and they often prefer laying down. Foals will frequently grind their teeth, chew on straw and exhibit a poor suckling reflex. Ulcers are painful and as a result, it often alters their attitudes. They may become aggressive, nervous or depressed. Behavioral changes occur as well, such as excessive salivation and grinding their teeth.

There are excellent medications available to treat ulcers, but they are costly. Prevention is key! Feeding oil and plenty of forage is helpful to slow acid production. The horse is designed to eat and digest their food throughout the day. Eliminating stress is another important step in reducing the incidence of ulcers. To reduce stress: maintain a normal daily routine, do not overwork, and gradually introduce new herd mates. Although ulcers are a common occurrence amongst horses, they can be prevented by maintaining a consistent feed, turnout, and exercise schedule. As well as providing clean, fresh water. Limiting the use of anti-inflammatory medications such as bute or banamine is also important.


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