Sour Stomach: Reducing Starch Intake Increases Longevity Of Ulcer Treatments - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Sour Stomach: Reducing Starch Intake Increases Longevity Of Ulcer Treatments

A new study from Denmark has shown that horses being treated for gastric ulcers should have their starch intake reduced; severe ulcers show sustained improvement when the horse is medically treated and fed a low-starch diet at the same time. 

Dr. Nanna Luthersson, of the Hestedoktoren clinic in Kirke Eskilstrup, used 58 horses diagnosed with gastric ulcers by endoscope for the trials. The horses were divided into two groups based on ulcer severity: 24 horses had “moderate” ulcers (graded 1 or 2 out of 4) and 34 horses had severe ulcers (graded 3 or 4 out of 4). 

Horses in each group were paired based on workload, diet, feeding times, and management. The horses with severe ulcers were started on omeprazole to reduce the stomach's acid production. The moderate-ulcer group received no medication. One horse in each pair was put on a low-starch diet fed three times a day. 

After four weeks, the medicated horses stopped receiving the omeprazole. The diets continued and the horses were scoped and graded. Six weeks after that, the horses were examined again and their lesions, if present, were graded. 

The scientists found that all the horses with severe ulcers had significant lesion reduction between the beginning of the study and the four-week endoscope. However, only those horses that had starch-restricted diets had sustained ulcer improvement throughout the 10-week trial. 

Horses that did not have starch-restricted diets developed ulcers and returned to their original lesion scores by week 10, receiving no long-term benefit from the omeprazole. 

The researchers conclude that horses with severe ulcers should have their starch intake restricted while being medically treated for ulcers. Horses with less-severe ulcers may be able to improve with just a diet change to limit starch intake. 

The maximum starch level a horse with ulcers should ingest is less than .04 ounces of starch per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day, with a maximum of  just over 1 ounce of starch per 2.2 pounds of body weight per meal.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

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