Colonic ulcers, or right dorsal colitis (RDC) for a better term, is quite common amongst performance horses in particular, but has been known to affect non-performance horses as well. In a study involving 545 horses, 44% nonperforming horses tested positive for RDC while 65% of the performance horses suffered from colonic ulcers. Which raises the question, why are performance horses more susceptible and what can you do to prevent colonic ulcers?
What are colonic ulcers?
It’s a painful, medical condition involving the development of ulcers in the large intestine of your horse, also known as right dorsal colitis (RDC). This condition decreases nutrient absorption and increases protein loss. Elevated stress levels play a big role in the development of RDC and it is closely related to the use of anti-inflammatories. Performance horses are more affected due to their particular lifestyle – travelling for extended periods of time without constant feeding opportunities and stressful competition participation.
· Loss of appetite
· Decreased food intake
· Mild colic
· Weight loss
· Low protein levels
· Low albumin levels
· Elevated kidney levels
· Low calcium levels
How to treat colonic ulcers:
· Dietary management:
Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your horse’s diet may help reduce inflammation of the gut, along with adding frequent small meals throughout the day instead of a handful of large meals. You may also want to consider changing your horse’s diet to an alfalfa-based meal to allow the gut to recover.
· Lifestyle changes:
Horses with RDC show various alarming symptoms, of which you need to implement a few lifestyle changes to allow your horse to heal. Reducing travel times, strenuous training sessions and limited confinement to reduce stress will benefit your horse tremendously.
You may want to introduce: Rigly Equicalm – a natural calmative to keep your horse cool, calm and collected.
· Medical therapy:
In severe cases, medical therapy becomes necessary. Introducing IV fluids, plasma as well as pain reducing treatments are needed. However, surgery and right dorsal colon resection may also be necessary. Certain medication to coat the ulcer while it heals may be prescribed by your veterinarian.
Photo credit: wwwbaileyshorsefeeds.co.uk