Poll Recap: Checking for Gastric Ulcers
Any horse can develop gastric ulcers. But how do you know for sure if your horse has them? One of the most reliable methods veterinarians use to confirm gastric ulcers is gastroscopy, which gives them a closer look at what’s really going in on the horse’s stomach.

In last week’s online poll, we asked our readers if they’ve ever had a veterinarian perform a gastroscopy on their horse to check for ulcers. More than 300 people responded and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 323 respondents, only 81 (25%) have had a gastroscopy performed on their horse to check for ulcers. The remaining 242 respondents (75%) have not.

Additionally, more than 90 people commented about their experiences with horses and ulcers:

Several people said they have had a gastroscopy performed on their horse and shared why:

  • “My recent OTTB adoption had a mild case of colic. I requested he be scoped. He was negative for ulcers.”
  • “Behavioral issues with no other known cause. Ulcers were found!”
  • “My gelding colicked six times in two weeks, so we checked for ulcers.”
  • “It is frequent problem in racehorses to have ulcers, so we get them checked out on some horses.”
  • “My horse passed away because I waited too long to scope him and an ulcer perforated. My other horses have been scoped, too.”
  • “Horse was not doing well and equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) needed to be ruled out before we embarked on other tests.”
  • “Only way to truly know what is going on in a horse’s gut.”
  • “My rescue filly had symptoms of ulcers and was vet-checked positive.”

Others said they have not had their horse scoped:

  • “Unable to afford the cost.”
  • “No, but have been thinking about it.”
  • “Fasting required and it’s invasive.”
  • “No, and I hope I never need to.”
  • “I think it’s just easier to treat than pay for the scope unless you suspect something else.”
  • “I suspect my horse may have ulcers, but do not have the funds for a gastroscopy right now.”
  • “Could have used it, but there aren’t many vets in my area.”
  • “My vet lacks the necessary equipment.”

Some respondents commented that they have treated their horses for ulcers, but have not had a gastroscopy performed:

  • “We’ve treated for ulcers based on clinical signs, but have not scoped him yet.”
  • “Treated for ulcers, never actually scoped.”
  • “I was prepared to but vet said he didn’t need it. Another vet started him on gut medicine.”
  • “It is high-cost, and treating with omeprazole is risk free and will resolve it if that is the case.”
  • “Tried a week of UlcerGard and mare was better. Cheaper than the scope.”
  • “She displayed enough symptoms of ulcers without the gastroscopy and the cost benefit didn’t warrant.”

A few people said they’ve never had to worry about their horse having ulcers:

  • “Trail horses in light work, so hopefully no need for scoping.”
  • “My horses have never shown symptoms associated with ulcers–guess I’ve just been lucky!”
  • “No, because they lead very stress-free lives.”
  • “Never had a problem, low-stress horsekeeping”
  • “No sign of ulcers as keep horses on pasture, lightly ridden.”
  • “Never had any problems that might indicate ulcers.”
  • “Never felt a need because I take preventive measures per horse with my programs.”
  • “No. My horses have never had any problems with ulcers.”

And others left general comments:

  • “I can treat it for less than it costs to diagnose.”
  • “Not for ulcers, but for damage to the esophagus preceding the pyloric valve, subsequent to choke.”
  • “I really would like to scope my horse, but financially cannot afford to do it right now.”
  • “Vet recommends gastroscopy only if treatment doesn’t resolve symptoms.”
  • “Scoping doesn’t show ulcers in the hind gut so the results would be inconclusive”
  • “When you know what you’re looking for it’s easy to diagnose and adjust the routine for their health.”

You can find additional information on equine gastric ulcers including an archived Ask TheHorse Live podcast, tips for feeding the ulcer-prone horse, a closer look at how gastric ulcers are formed, and much more at TheHorse.com!

This week, we want to know: have you owned or managed a horse that had a problem with headshaking? Vote now and tell us about your experiences at TheHorse.com/polls!

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.