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Dr. Harvey Domoslai, DVM

Corman Park Veterinary Services
5 miles West of Saskatoon, sk
on Highway 14 at Saskatoon Livestock Sales

Full facilities for the management of equine health issues.

Dr. Harvey Domoslai, DVM
Phone: (306) 384-7676
Emergencies: (306) 227-8331

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"Ask a Vet" about Equine Ulcers

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   August 25, 2011 08:29

 Q:  “Dolly, quarter horse mare, age 17, teeth & wormer up to date.  She had access to fresh water, salt, mineral and large round mixed grass hay and combined barley straw which was supplemented with alfalfa hay when temperatures went below minus 20.  Feed was consistently offered in 4 different locations.  She had 2 pasture mates in 5 acres one winter, and then last winter she had 7 pasture mates in 35 acres. Both herd dynamic was calm and stable, no visible fighting, bite marks etc.  She started to have weight fluctuations during the past 2 winters.  Every 3 weeks she would noticeably drop weight even though she seemed to be consistent in her eating habits and volume.  The weight drop was followed by another 3 weeks that saw her weight fluctuate back up.  This past winter each weight drop was not quite made up fully before it fluctuated down again.  I moved her out with another mare, feed them very good quality alfalfa feed in addition to mixed grass (free choice) but still saw the fluctuation.  She bloomed on the spring grass and has looked good all summer.  What is causing this weight fluctuation? 


A:  Gastric ulcers sure can cause a fluctuating weight loss situation in an other wise healthy animal.  Sometimes winter stress is enough of a precipitator to make a horse that is prone to ulcers get ulcers.  The best diagnostic means is by gastric ultrasound which can visualize the stomach and oesophagus and measure treatment success. Treatment is best done by alleviating stress and use of H+ ion blockers of which a number of very good products are available i.e. Gastroguard.