Gastroscopy is a procedure using a video endoscope to examine the lining of the horse’s stomach and is commonly used to diagnose equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS). Signs of EGUS vary widely and clinical signs are often unnoticed. Common signs can include poor performance, behavioral changes, poor coat condition, weight loss or difficulty gaining weight, change in appetite, recurrent colic, and pain on girthing. There are two main types of gastric ulcers:
Squamous ulcerations occur on the top white half of the stomach, and are due to too much exposure to stomach acid. Squamous ulcers are linked to meal feeding instead of constant grazing, high concentrate diets, stress, and exercising on an empty stomach. Gastric glandular disease occurs in the bottom pink acid producing part of the stomach. These ulcers are believed to be due to a reduced ability of the stomach to protect itself from acid.
Gastroscopy is the only way to diagnose stomach ulcers. Once the type and severity of the ulcers is diagnosed, treatment will be recommended. Typically, ulcers will be treated for four weeks before performing a follow up gastroscopy.
Gastric ulcers are very common in domesticated horses due to confinement and meal feeding. Depending on the study, they can be found in up to 90% of horses. We recommend scoping horses annually.
Interested in having your horse scoped? Orange County Equine Veterinary Services offers gastroscopies (and other services!) at local stables! You can also browse Equivont's other veterinarians to find one near you!