How can I prevent ulcers?

By minimising stress and following appropriate feeding practices, you can make a significant contribution towards reducing the risk of your horse developing gastric ulcers. Using a preventative like Equestra Equine Omeprazole at other times, will further assist in maintaining your horse’s health and wellbeing.

Only 4-10% of ulcers heal on their own

Here are some expert tips to help minimise the risk of your horse developing ulcers, and to improve the management of acid production and exposure in the stomach.

Prevention tips


Stress is a major risk factor for ulcers. Physical and environmental stressors such as intense exercise, stall confinement, and transport stress are common in horses and increase the risk of your horse developing gastric ulcers.

Avoid stressful situations when possible or talk with your veterinarian about using Equestra as a preventative option during transport and competition, or at other times when stress in unavoidable.

Feeding routine

Provide a consistent feeding routine. Horses need to eat regularly, and sudden changes in their feeding routine can lead to stress and ulcers. Try to stick to a regular feeding schedule and avoid sudden changes in the type or amount of feed.

Allow access to forage. Horses are grazing animals and need to have access to hay or pasture at all times. Forage promotes chewing and the production of saliva, which helps buffer stomach acid. Forage also provides the stomach with a mat of fibrous food that helps to stop acid from splashing onto the unprotected, non-glandular areas of the stomach.

Avoid long periods without food. Horses should not go more than four hours without food. Try to provide small meals or hay throughout the day to keep their digestive system functioning properly.

Use small mesh hay nets or spread the hay out as much as possible to increase feeding time and regulate the horse’s rate of ingestion.

Don’t over wet feed, dry feed stimulates more saliva production.


Horses that are fed diets high in sugar and starch (such as high-grain diets) have an increased risk for ulcer development. Starches are rapidly fermented and cause the stomach environment to be even more acidic. Limit dietary starch.

Grains (both textured and pelleted) do not require as much chewing as forages and less saliva is produced. So not only do the grains produce a more acidic stomach environment than forages, but they also reduce the amount of saliva available to help buffer the acid.

Lucerne/Alfalfa hay is high in protein and calcium. Both nutrients provide extra gastric acid buffering. Lucerne hay is the hay of choice to aid in the treatment and prevention of gastric ulcers.

Offering several different types of forage to stabled horses can increase the amount they eat, and this could reduce the risk of ulcers. In practice, hay, haylage and a large bucket of alfalfa chaff could be fed to a stabled horse.

Training and Competing

Intense exercise and heavy work is strongly linked to ulcer risk. The harder a horse works and the longer the horse is in work, the more likely it is to develop ulcers – and the more severe the ulcers are likely to be. Decreasing the number of times per week that a horse works is a useful strategy in reducing the prevalence and severity of ulcers.

Always ensure there is some forage in the stomach before work. Feed in the stomach absorbs gastric fluid and also forms a physical barrier to help minimise acid splashing onto the unprotected areas of the stomach. Feeding a small meal of alfalfa, which is rich in protein and calcium, 20 minutes before exercise can be helpful.

If a horse has to be transported provide forage on the journey and immediately upon arrival at the destination.


Avoid long treatments with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as bute-phenylbutazone (Bute) and banamineflunixin megalumine (Flunixin).

Medications that have been shown to promote ulcer formation should be used with caution and avoided where possible.


Horses are social animals. Horses that have physical and visual contact with each other are less likely to develop ulcers.

Horses that must be stalled should be arranged so they can see and socialize with other horses.

Otherwise, maximise turnout time where possible for the benefits of forage, movement, socialisation and the general wellbeing of your horse.

Equestra Equine Omeprazole administration is stress free for the horse.

This supports the objective of minimising stress on the horse, helping to improve the horse’s general health as well as optimising the clinical outcomes of treatment.

One could say that syringe alternatives are perhaps counter-intuitive, in that administration of syringed pastes can be a stressful ordeal for all involved.

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