The Best Diet for Horses with Ulcers

Do you own a horse with ulcers? Struggling to find the right nutrition to help them heal? This blog post will provide you with the best diet to support horses suffering from ulcers. Look no further; the answers are here!

Quick facts: Best Diet For Horses With Ulcers

  • ✅ Horses with gastric ulcers may benefit from a diet low in simple sugars and starch, and high in fiber – American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP)
  • ✅ When feeding horses with gastric ulcers, it is important to provide smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day – Equine Science Society
  • ✅ Alfalfa hay is an excellent source of fiber for horses with ulcers and can help alleviate clinical signs – National Animal Supplement Council
  • ✅ A diet high in fatty acids (such as linoleic and linolenic acid) can help to reduce the severity of gastric ulcers in horses – American College of Veterinary Nutrition
  • ✅ Providing horses with grazing time is an effective way to help reduce the risk of gastric ulcers – The

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Understanding Ulcers

Gastric ulcers commonly affect horses and are caused by the erosion of the stomach lining due to a variety of factors. In order to properly treat ulcers, it is important to understand the causes and the best diet for horses with ulcers. This article will provide an overview of the causes and effects of gastric ulcers and the types of diet that can be beneficial for horses with ulcers.

Types of Ulcers

Horses can suffer from many types of ulcers, including Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (GUS) or Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS), which are ulcers located in the stomach and small intestine. Glandular gastric ulcers, found only in the glandular region of the stomach, are less common but can be equally painful and distressing. Colonic ulcers can also occur in a horse’s large intestine and are thought to be related to diet.

No matter what type of ulcer a horse is suffering from, proper nutrition is essential for helping it heal. Diet recommendations for horses with ulcers include avoiding high-starch or high-sugar feeds and providing plenty of roughage as well as access to fresh water throughout the day. A feeding schedule should also be established to ensure that horses consistently receive meals throughout the day instead of waiting hours between meals. High-quality hay should be offered free-choice, and owners should consider adding digestive supplements such as gastric buffers or probiotics to the diet as well.

Symptoms of Ulcers

Horses with ulcers generally display a variety of signs and symptoms, including:

  • General lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat condition
  • Decreased appetite
  • Colic
  • Increased frequency of urination and defecation
  • Decreased saliva production due to pain in the mouth or throat area

Additionally horses might display more behavioural signs such as being irritable or even nipping while being handled. Other behaviour includes chin smacking and tongue lolling.

Accurate diagnosis and assessment is needed to prevent further damage to the horse’s gastrointestinal tract. Diagnostic techniques include endoscopy (physical examination of the stomach) or blood testing for digestive markers to confirm if ulcers are present in the stomach or small intestines. Treatment involves dietary change as recommended by vets and administering medications designed for Ulcer Control when necessary.

Diet Considerations

Horses that suffer from gastric ulcers require a diet that meets their particular needs. An optimal diet should aim to reduce inflammation and create an environment in the stomach that is not conducive to ulcer formation. The right diet should also provide the horse with the necessary energy and nutrients needed to maintain its health throughout the healing process.

Let’s explore the dietary considerations for horses with ulcers:

Types of Feed

When deciding what type of feed to give horses with ulcers, it is important to keep in mind that horses in this situation need to be closely monitored and have their diets adjusted accordingly. For horses with ulcers, it is recommended that they eat small meals throughout the day as opposed to one large meal.

When selecting a feed for horses with ulcers, there are several types of feed available. It is important to consider the ingredients used in a particular feed and make sure that they are appropriate for an animal with ulcers. Common categories of feeds include:

  • Cubed feeds have larger chunks than pellets or mash, but may not be advisable due to their high sugar content.
  • Pellets are more condensed than cubed or mash and can take longer to digest due to the compression process involved in creating them.
  • Mashes are made from grains that are steamed before being processed into small chunks; this can help improve digestion and reduce acid reflux associated with ulcers.
  • Extruded feeds typically contain higher amounts of fat and protein and can help support a horse’s nutritional needs while managing their disorders.

Feeding Frequency

Feeding your horse with ulcers at least 2-3 times daily is recommended. Feeding multiple times each day helps to keep the stomach content of acid low throughout the day, which can reduce symptoms associated with gastric ulcers in horses. Feeding larger meals less frequently is not recommended, as it allows a buildup of stomach acid after eating. Try to spread out feedings so that your horse receives something small every 3-4 hours. Feedings should be separated by no more than 6 hours maximum and should be given before work or other activities that cause stress for your horse.

Provide plenty of fresh water and hay at all times, especially if your horse is receiving grain or other concentrated feeds. Avoid feeding very high sugar/starch concentrates such as sweet feed if possible, as this may contribute to an imbalanced digestive system that favors bacterial growth and acid production in the horse’s gastrointestinal tract.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Horses with ulcers may benefit from taking a vitamin and mineral supplement, particularly if they are on a restricted diet and don’t have access to fresh pasture or hay. Vitamins and minerals help support the body’s natural healing process and can be necessary for proper digestion.

Additionally, if your horse is on medication for ulcers, it is important to supplement their diet with the appropriate vitamins and minerals in order to avoid any deficiencies that could lead to other health issues. Vitamin E, selenium, and iron are especially beneficial for horses with ulcers. Furthermore, probiotic supplements are also available which may help maintain the gut flora balance so that the gastro-intestinal tract can heal itself from stress-induced injuries.

Feeding Strategies

When it comes to diet and nutrition for horses with ulcers, it is important to consider the type and severity of the ulcer. Horses with ulcers can benefit from a customized diet to ensure they get the best nutritional support they need. Feeding strategies must include quality hay and forage, as well as modest protein, fat and carbohydrate sources.

Let’s go into more detail about what this means:

Small, Frequent Meals

Small, frequent meals are one of the best feeding strategies to use for horses with ulcers. This should include feeds that contain quality carbohydrates, moderate levels of fats, and proteins. These meals should be offered in small portions spread throughout the day. For example, a horse with ulcers should be fed 4-5 times per day instead of large meals 2-3 times per day.

  • This is because it helps to reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach and keep it from getting too full at any one time.
  • It also provides more consistent nutrition which is important for proper digestion and absorption.
  • Additionally, feeding smaller amounts frequently can help reduce stress in horses with ulcers which can cause further damage to their digestive systems.

Low-Starch Feeds

Low-starch feeds are ideal for horses suffering from ulcers, as research shows that reducing diet starch can be beneficial in reducing ulcer severity. Low-starch feeds, such as grass hay and some types of pellet feeds, include reduced levels of sugars and starches, which can help to reduce gastric acidity in the horse’s stomach. Also, adding low-starch feed to a horse’s existing diet should not adversely affect the horse’s performance or growth.

Some other good examples of low starch feeds include:

  • Beet pulp
  • Alfalfa haylage
  • Alfalfa cubes or pellets

These options offer plenty of combination for your horse’s unique nutritional needs without compromising the health of their digestive system. Additionally, adding supplements such as kaolin clay to help protect the mucosal lining can also be beneficial when fed along with a low-starch diet.

Forage-Based Diets

Forage-based diets are one of the best feeding strategies for horses with ulcers. Forage-based diets include hay and/or pasture, providing the horse with a constant source of fiber that is digested in the hindgut. The fiber content of hay and pasture stimulate the cecum and large intestine which create a healthy environment for beneficial bacteria to exist.

This encourages a healthy microbial population, which in turn helps reduce acid levels in the stomach. Additionally, it has been found that horses on forage-based diets have lower gastric acidity than horses on grain or concentrate diets.

In short, forage-based diets are an effective way to help prevent and manage equine gastric ulcers.

Other Considerations

When it comes to feeding horses with ulcers, there are a few additional considerations that must be taken into account. These include factors such as the horse’s age, activity level, and overall health. Also, the type of feed and supplements should be carefully selected in order to promote healthy digestion and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Here, we will discuss some of the most important considerations when caring for horses with ulcers:

Stress Management

Stress management is key to a horse’s overall health and well-being, especially when dealing with ulcers. It is important to recognize the signs of stress in horses, such as weight loss, decreased appetite and decreased performance. If your horse is experiencing any of these signs it is important to address them right away.

Stress can come from environmental factors such as changes in routine or hay bales molds, but can also be emotional. Working with an equine nutritionist can help you make sure that your horse is getting the best diet for their needs and that any emotional stressors are addressed. Establishing a calming environment with plenty of turnout and contact with other horses is essential to helping relieve stress in horses that suffer from ulcers.

Proper Teeth Care

Proper teeth care is an often overlooked factor in the best diet for horses with ulcers. Horses need to have regularly scheduled dental exams and maintain healthy teeth in order to properly chew their food. Poorly chewed food can create an environment that is conducive for ulcer development, as it can lead to slow digestion and poor nutrient absorption.

Having a dentist check your horse’s teeth at least once a year will ensure that any problems can be addressed before they become serious. Additionally, horses should have their teeth floated every 6-12 months depending on the individual horse. Floating helps minimize sharp points and hooks on the tooth which helps make chewing more efficient and easier on the horse’s digestive system.


When it comes to the best diet for horses with ulcers, exercise is an important consideration. Exercise is an important factor in managing equine gastric ulcers. It helps to stimulate gastric emptying and reduce acid production. Research has found that horses with increased levels of exercise have lower levels of stomach acidity and fewer ulcer-like lesions in the gastrointestinal tract compared to horses with lower levels of exercise.

To ensure the best diet for horses with ulcers, it’s important that they have adequate access to low-impact, aerobic activities such as walking or light trotting. Long periods of inactivity are discouraged as this can lead to decreased digestive motility and increase risk for development or exacerbation of gastric ulcers. Additionally, horses should not be over-exercised either as this can lead to further stomach acidity and therefore place them at risk for developing more severe irritation and inflammation in their stomachs.


In conclusion, the best diet for horses with ulcers is one that is low in starches and sugars and is high in fiber. It should include fresh hay, haylage, pasture access or hay cubes and have minimal grain supplementation. Fiber sources can be added to the diet to supplement the horse’s digestive bacteria.

Be sure to monitor your horse’s health closely while they are on this type of diet. This will help prevent relapse and ensure the horse receives all of their required nutrients for optimal health. Additionally, speak with your veterinarian about any dietary concerns or changes prior to making them. Following these recommendations can help improve your horse’s quality of life when managing equine gastric ulcers.

FAQs about: Best Diet For Horses With Ulcers

Q: What is the best diet for horses with ulcers?

A: The best diet for horses with ulcers is a diet that is low in grain and high in forage. Hay and grass should make up the majority of the diet and grain should be kept to a minimum. Additionally, avoid feeding alfalfa hay as it is high in protein, which can make ulcers worse.

Q: What other nutritional considerations should I make for horses with ulcers?

A: To help treat and prevent ulcers, it is important to maintain a regular feeding schedule and provide plenty of turnout time and exercise. If grain must be fed, it should be in small amounts and soaked in water before feeding. Additionally, anti-ulcer supplements may be beneficial in preventing and treating ulcers.

Q: What other treatments are available for horses with ulcers?

A: In addition to dietary changes, there are a number of medications and treatments available for horses with ulcers. Gastroprotectant medications are commonly prescribed to reduce the acidity in the stomach and promote healing. Additionally, probiotics, herbal supplements, and acupuncture can be used to help treat and prevent ulcers.

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