How to identify signs of hindgut ulcers and how to treat

Last Updated on March 15, 2022 by Allison Price

The hindgut of horses is huge and serves many important functions. It is where the horse’s fibre is fermented in order to produce energy. The presence of ulcers in the hindgut may be very painful. It can also be a sign that the ‘fermenter isn’t working properly.

Hindgut Ulcers in Horses

Hindgut ulcers are not able to be diagnosed using a gastroscope, unlike gastric ulcers. Although there are other methods such as ultrasound and blood work that can diagnose hindgut cancers, most vets still rely on presumptive diagnosis.

Non-specific signs that indicate hindgut problems include mild, intermittent, or recurring colic, lethargy, and loss of appetite. As the condition progresses, clinical signs can include:

  • Sudden girthiness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sensitivity in flank area
  • Difficulty in bending, collecting, or extending
  • Manure with blood
  • Chewing wood

A quick test can be done at home to determine the pH level of horse manure.

Manure Test for Hindgut Acidosis

First, a disclaimer: this information is not intended to replace veterinary advice. Second, ensure you read the instructions on your strip testing kit. There may be other requirements.

This is messy. Use gloves

  1. Buy a pH strip packet. These can be purchased on eBay for as low as $10
  2. After your horse has passed manure, take 3-4 ‘balls’ from the horse and put them in a ziplock bag. This is done to obtain a ‘cross-sectional’ of the manure.
  3. Mix the manure in the ziplock bag.
  4. Place the strip in the bag. Give the strip enough time to absorb moisture and allow the colour to develop.
  5. This color can be compared to the pH chart in your kit.

Horse manure has a pH of 6.8. The pH of horse manure is 6.8.

What causes are hindgut ulcers?

Bute and Banamine:Bute blocks two enzymes. We want to block one enzyme that is responsible for pain and inflammation. Another enzyme, which is responsible for pain and inflammation, is also blocked. It maintains a healthy intestinal lining and promotes blood clotting. It is important to not use non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs for more than 5 – 7 consecutive days.

Too many grains: Lactic acid buildup kills the good bacteria and encourages the growth of pathogenic bacteria. This happens when too much undigested grain reaches the hindgut. This is called hindgut acidosis.

Hindgut Ulcers

Stress: Horses release a hormone called Cortisol when they are stressed. This hormone prevents them from synthesising prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is essential for the production of mucous, which protects the digestive tract against acid.

Parasites Infections: Parasites Infections can lead to ulcers in the area where they attach to your intestinal wall, in particular large strongyles and tapeworm.

How to treat hindgut ulcers

Lifestyle changes, diet modification, and medication are the best ways to achieve successful treatment.

  • Avoid the use NSAIDs (especially Bute or Banamine).
  • Stress reduction methods can be implemented. Access to grazing/turnout, companionship for your horse, and minimization of travel & competitions during treatment are all examples.
  • Make sure you have constant access to low sugar forage.

Treatment of hindgut ulcers with Sucralfate

The treatment of colonic ulcers differs from the treatment of gastric ulcers. Medication such as omeprazole can be used to treat gastric ulcers but not for hindgut cancer. Sucralfate has been the most effective treatment for hindgut cancers. It is a complex of sucrose and aluminum hydroxide that acts by binding to the ulcer site and creating a protective coating over it.

sucralfate binds with the lesion site and stimulates the production prostaglandins, a protective chemical that protects the colon against further damage.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!