Most people think of ulcers in horses as being large areas of damage in the stomach. Leaky gut is a condition that can occur if the lining of the intestines becomes irritated and develops small ulcers. Normally a healthy gut wall would prevent any toxins or undigested proteins from getting into the circulation but a damaged gut wall can allow leakage.
Some people do not believe this can be a cause of colic in horses or even that it occurs but my experience says it does.
Healthy beneficial flora in the gut are essential for the gut wall to stay healthy. I feel that the healthy bacteria normally inhabit all the crevices between all the leaf like microvilli and this protects the actual lining of the gut. When the healthy bacteria decrease in numbers the gut lining is not protected and any toxins produced from poor digestion can damage it.
This is why I put so much emphasis on keeping healthy bacteria numbers in the gut as a prevention of colic in horses. Feeding probiotics can be one way to do this but some horses do better on prebiotics such as KLPP and the environment created in the gut by these products helps the good bacteria multiply. Clinical signs are the only way I know to diagnose leaky gut. Signs such as low grade colic in horses, skin eruptions such as hives, weight loss or poor performance can all be signs of leaky gut. It is also good to look at products such as stomach soother or aloe/slippery elm to heal the gut lining. You need to be aggressive in getting the gut healthy again and then you can drop back to a maintenance program . Madalyn