Monday, August 27, 2012

Ulcer Schmulcer - Uh Oh

So, Merck is one of the leading pharmaceutical companies out there, and they report evidence of ~50% of foals showing mild gastric ulcers. There are other sources that report similar findings and statistics, but I'll stick to referencing just Merck primarily for now in this particular posting. Additional statistics state that approximately 30%  of adult horses have mild gastric erosions, whereas a whopping 90% of race horses have gastric lesions, with at least 50% of those cases are moderate to severe.

I reference these statistics because I've now had some experience with ulcers, and based on that experience, I believe that my new filly, Pippa, has ulcers. Some noteable symptoms that can indicate ulcers can be jumpiness/spooky behavior, unwillingness to eat their meal all at once, a preference to hay over grain or grass, a dull look to their coat, inability to put on weight, perpetual ribbiness, discomfort and/or attitude at feeding time, discomfort when cinching the girth, general crankiness, etc. etc. etc.

Continued observation of Pippa leads me to believe that she must have ulcers. She exhibits several symptoms, including ribbiness, spookiness, discomfort/objection to touching her sides in certain ways sometimes, and her coat is quite dull. When she eats, unless you have her tied to her feed bucket, she will grab a bite, wander off and pace a bit, then wander back and grab some more. After she's been eating awhile, she'll finally settle in and stay put more, but I've taken to tying her while she eats so that she will stay focused.

I picked up some ulcer medication from our vet, and Pippa has now been on it for about 4 or 5 days. However, further reading makes me think that perhaps I should add Ranitidine to her medication dosing schedule because she had history of ulcers before after a particularly traumatic weaning experience prior to coming to my farm. I believe that she may have either not completely healed before or she just had them come back more strongly than I thought they did after moving her to my farm. Admittedly, I have been too busy and haven't been paying as close attention because I just finished up a 6 week long stretch of wedding weekend after wedding weekend because of friends and family members getting married back to back. She was getting fed every day, but I was seeing without observing. Now that I'm paying closer attention, she seems to be even more spooky than when she first arrived, and the wandering off from her meal plus the dull coat and objections to me touching her flanks makes me think ulcers for sure.

The jury is still out on Queen having ulcers or not. I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt to dose her since she still has some longish looking coat where she shouldn't. On one hand, people are telling me that weanlings sometimes don't shed out to sleek till later, and she's sort of sleek, but there are definite areas on her back and flanks where the hair is longer than on her neck or legs. Probably good to dose them both, but Pippa may need a longer dosing period since she seems to be more stressed out.

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