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Importance of Ulcer Research Discussed at Veterinary Colic Symposium

Equine Resources International, LLC

During his presentation at the 2005 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Practice Management Seminar: Focus on Equine Colic, internationally recognized veterinarian Frank Andrews, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM, discussed the importance of recent research conducted by Franklin Pellegrini, DVM. Pellegrini’s work, published in the March issue of the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, sharply highlighted the previously unrecognized frequency and importance of colonic ulcers in horses.

Dr. Andrews serves as Professor and Section Chief of Large Animal Medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. His presentation, titled Ulcers of the Stomach and Colon: A Pain in the Gut!, cited Pellegrini’s findings that colonic ulceration may be present in up to 63% of performance horses, and 54% of performance horses may have both gastric and colonic ulcers.

“Ulcers in the colon can be a significant cause of colic for many horses,” Andrews said. “Dr. Pellegrini’s research reveals just how many horses may be affected, but the trouble is that medications designed to work on stomach ulcers just don’t provide relief or treatment in the colon.”

This suggests that an entirely different method of treatment is necessary to help with colonic ulcers.

Dr. Andrews suggests that horse owners and their veterinarians consider implementing methods to decrease stress and avoid use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). He also recognized probiotics and digestive aids as important tools in helping the many performance horses that may have colon pain.

Polar lipids were among the nutrients that Dr. Andrews presented as helping with overall digestive health. These components of oat oil help transport nutrients into the blood stream and support a healthy gut lining. Soluble oat fiber—which supports the immune system—amino acids and yeast extracts were also discussed as important nutrients.

“There isn’t a certain way to treat colonic ulcers at this time,” Dr. Andrews said. “The best option for horse owners may be to prevent ulceration by reducing stress, assuring hydration and utilizing proper nutrients to support the health of the entire digestive tract, including the colon.”