As you are no doubt aware by now, since I’ve been hammering on the subject mercilessly, there are four kinds of horse ulcers.
But how can you diagnose what kind of ulcer your horse has? You may not be able to do that by yourself because the symptoms of all four kinds of horse ulcers may appear the same, and include:
- diminished appetite
- frequent pawing
- weight loss
- poor performance
- reluctance to eat grain but ready consumption of hay
- sore back
- in foals, colic, a pot-bellied appearance, teeth grinding, and excessive salivation
However, your veterinarian can help you diagnose certain kinds of ulcers, and you may need to seek the help of osteopath for other kinds. Stomach and duodenal ulcers can generally be diagnosed with an endoscope, which is a long flexible tube with a camera and light attached at the end. An endoscope allows a veterinarian to look inside a horse’s stomach and duodenum, but is generally not long enough to reach the lower part of the small intestine or the colon.
An osteopath can diagnose the location of ulcers by the location of spinal blockages. For instance, stomach ulcers are indicated by blockages in the 12th through 14th thoracic vertebrae, while blockages in the 14th through 16th vertebrae indicate duodenal ulcers. Ulcers in the lower small intestine and upper colon cause blockages in the 17th and 18th thoracic vertebrae, and ulcers in the lower colon result in blockages in lumbar vertebrae 1-5. Osteopaths can also help release spinal subluxations, adhesions, and other physical problems that may be contributing to your horse’s ulcer.
Horse Ulcer and Osteopathic Resources
While osteopaths are few and far between at the moment, you can look online to see if there are any osteopaths in your area. Here are two links to get you started:
Here are also links to education and resources about horse ulcers and treatment:
Holistic Horsekeeping Online Store (digestive and ulcer treatment products)
Horse Ulcers: Not the Same for Every Horse
Horse Ulcers: Holistic Treatments for Each Type of Ulcer
Natural Ulcer Relief for Horses Part I
Natural Ulcer Relief for Horses Part II
Photo credit: Free Digital Photos