Stomach Aches: Vast Majority Of Foals Have Ulcers Upon Weaning

by | 04.19.2018 | 8:53am

Though it's long been suggested that weaning can cause gastric ulcers in foals, the first true study has found that a “staggering” percentage of foals developed gastric lesions within two weeks of being separated from their dams: 98 percent, to be exact.

Equine gastric ulcer syndrome, also called EGUS, can cause disease. Although it is most-common in weanling foals, ulcers have been seen in foals only 24 hours old. Foals affected with ulcers may show no physical signs (up to 57 percent of foals show no signs), while others may have no appetite or be unthrifty; some foals may colic and ulcers can perforate, causing death.

Reported in the journal Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, Michael Hewetson and colleagues performed a simple blood sucrose test to identify foals with stomach lesions. Though the sucrose test will not replace scoping for ulcers, its indications can be clinically helpful in identifying foals that might need scoped. While large-scale screening of foals would be ideal, gastroscopy is costly and time consuming. The sucrose test is an easy, economical alternative.

The study used 45 foals from one farm; each foal was scoped and sucrose tested twice, 7 days before and 14 days after weaning. Prior to weaning, 21 percent of the foals had gastric lesions; two weeks after weaning, 98 percent of the foals had gastric lesions, the study found. No foal showed signs of ulcers at the time of testing.

The results of the study indicated that a blood sucrose permeability test can help screen for gastric ulcers in weanlings. The test was also able to indicate if the lesions were in the upper stomach or the lower stomach.

Read more at HorseTalk.

Read the full study here.

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