We are often asked whether it is worth gastroscoping your horse if you are strongly suspicious of ulcers, why not just treat them? Jacqui Paton BVSc CertEP MRCVS explains more
Is it really ulcers?
The symptoms of gastric ulcers are non specific. There are lots of signs such as colic, teeth grinding, discomfort on girthing, weight loss, that can be caused by other conditions. The only way to diagnose gastric ulcers is by gastroscopy. Many insurance companies will only pay for treatment of ulcers if they have been definitively diagnosed for this reason.
How bad are the ulcers?
The more severe the ulcer, the longer the treatment course necessary. This can only be assessed by scoping – recent research has shown that the degree of ulceration doesn’t correlate with the severity of the symptoms. This means that horses can show marked discomfort with only relatively mild ulcers, or few symptoms even when their ulcers are extensive.
Where are the ulcers located?
The location of the ulcers in the stomach and the extent of ulceration may mean that different treatments are needed in addition to routine treatment.
Are the ulcers healed?
Follow up gastroscopy allows us to assess how the healing is progressing – many horses will appear totally normal once on treatment, even if their ulcers have not fully healed. Monitoring gastroscopy means that we can check healing has occurred before reducing the dosage.
For more information about gastroscopy for your horse, please contact our Equine team.