Top five conditions claimed for in 2018 revealed

Gastric ulcers have been found to be the most common condition horse owners claimed for in 2018, according to figures from Petplan Equine.

It affected 575 horses, and more than £1 million was paid out for gastric ulcer claims by Petplan Equine last year.

Vet Gil Riley MRCVS explains, “Growing awareness that an underperforming horse could potentially have gastric ulcers and the consequent testing and diagnosis is reflected in the rise in the number of insurance claims.”

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Gil added, “Any horse could have stomach ulcers not just performance horses as thought in the past. I would advise all horse owners to be on the lookout. If your horse has repeated bouts of low grade colic which resolve quickly it could also be a sign of gastric ulcers.”

Other findings

Although arthritis claims droped to second place the number of claims made remained static year on year.

The quantity of colic claims also remained level when compared to 2017.

Whilst desmitis and laminitis claims increased and the amount paid on claims grew substantially, they remained in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Over £12.4 million was paid out in claims by Petplan Equine in 2018.

On average, over £1 million in claims was paid out per month in 2018.

What are gastric ulcers?

Gastric ulcers are generally small erosions in the lining of the stomach which are painful and can affect the appetite, appearance, demeanour and riding experience of your horse.

What are the clinical signs?

  • Reduced appetite – he may prefer hard feed to hay  

  • Low grumbling colic

  • Dull coat 

  • Behavioural changes

  • Lameness, naughtiness or back pain when being ridden

How can I help prevent gastric ulcers?

The key to reducing the risk of ulcers is to feed lots of forage, so your horse produces lots of saliva to act as a buffer in his stomach. Find out more about reducing the risk of ulcers with fibre, here.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis of gastric ulceration is made by your vet performing a gastro scope. Management and feeding adjustments should be made as your vet advises and your horse will most likely be put on a daily dose of Omeprazole.

Case study – Dez and Rachel’s story

Rachel bought Dez in September 2016 but by the end of October he started to have low grade colic every two to three weeks. Dez was found to have grade four Squamous Ulcers – which affect the Squamousportion of the stomach (the upper third of the stomach). 

Unfortunately, when the spring grass came Dez had a couple of episodes of gas colic, so alterations to his turnout regime were made. Sadly, one episode was so severe Rachel nearly lost him, and he ended up back in hospital. 

“At this point it seemed to be one thing after the other,” commented Rachel. “He came through for the second time, and his health seemed to improve slightly. Then he was found to have grade two Pyloric Ulcers. I was devastated.”

Dez has now been clear of both colic and ulcers since the end of July 2017.

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