1 in 3 horses suffer from gastric ulcers

Why are foals at particular risk?

Up to 50% of foals develop stomach ulcers, particularly during the first few months of life. Foals are known to secrete substantial amounts of gastric acid by 2 days of age, resulting in highly acidic stomach contents in-between periods of time when they are nursing . As a foal’s stomach lining is thinner than that of an adult horse, it is particularly susceptible to damage1.

Mother and foalProposed risk factors for gastric ulcers in foals include1,2:

  • Physiological stress
  • Concurrent illness
  • Transportation
  • Weaning, or reduced feed consumption
  • Recurrent diarrhoea

As gastric ulceration can be fatal in foals, prompt diagnosis and effective treatment are particularly important. As with adult horses, contact your vet as soon as possible if you have any concerns.

References

  1. Murray MJ. Gastroduodenal ulceration in foals. Equine Vet Ed 1999; 11: 199-207.
  2. Murray MJ et al. Prevalence of gastric disease: an endoscopic survey. Equine Vet J 1990; 22(1): 6-8.