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Effect of Changing Diet on Gastric Ulceration in Exercising Horses and Ponies After Cessation of Omeprazole Treatment

Luthersson, Nanna, Bolger, Coby, Fores, Paloma, Barfoot, Clare, Nelson, Sarah, Parkin, Timothy, Harris, Pat
Journal of equine veterinary science 2019
diet, digestive system diseases, drug therapy, forage, gastroscopy, horses, nutrition knowledge, risk factors, starch
Diet is an accepted risk factor for equine squamous gastric disease (ESGD), but there is little published evidence for the benefit of dietary change (DC). This study evaluated the effect of DC with or without initial omeprazole medication. Twelve pairs of exercising horses with ESGD Grade 2/4 (EM) and 17 pairs with ESGD Grade ≥3/4 (ES), were monitored. Paired horses had similar management, feeding times, workloads, and initially feed or forage. One of each pair was randomly assigned, postgastroscopy (Scope1), to a specified restricted starch ration; the other remained on their original diet. Omeprazole (4 mg/kg per os SID) was given to all ES pairs for 4 weeks. Gastroscopies were scored, without dietary knowledge, after 4 and 10 weeks (Scopes 2 and 3). Workloads remained similar throughout. McNemar’s tests identified any changes in ESGD grade. Within the EM group, DC had no additional effect. For the ES group remaining on their original diet, there was significant improvement in ESGD grade from Scopes 1 to 2 (P < .001) but a worsening between Scopes 2 and 3 (P = .005), with Scope 3 being no different from Scope 1 (P = .08) reflecting no apparent long-term medication benefit. For the DC group, there was significant improvement in ESGD grade from Scopes 1 to 2 (P < .001) and between Scopes 1 and 3 (P = .003); In addition, there was no significant difference between Scopes 2 and 3 (P = .32). Although limited by the small number of pairs evaluated, this study provides evidence that appropriate DCs can be a beneficial management strategy for ESGD.