A number of recent case studies conducted in Florida with sport horses diagnosed with various gastric ulcers and supplemented with Equine Omega Complete show very favorable results. We are excited to share those results with you here. However, to begin, let’s take a look at why different oils may benefit your horse’s gastric health.
Horses and Gastric Ulcers
Many horses, especially those participating in competitive sports suffer from gastric ulcers. These may take the form of squamous ulcers in the upper squamous tissue of the stomach or be glandular ulcers found in the lower glandular portion of the stomach. Ulcers may also form around the pylorus which is an opening in the lower portion of the stomach into the duodenum (the initial section of small intestine).
Typically squamous ulcers are treated with omeprazole (Ulcergard) and to this a second drug such as sucralfate is added when treating glandular ulcers. It is now generally accepted that glandular and pyloric ulcers are harder to treat due to their being bathed in acid whereas squamous ulcers are generally in less contact with this eroding liquid. While squamous ulcers typically resolve in about 30 days with correct treatment, pyloric and glandular ulcers may take double this or longer.
Treatments for both kinds of gastric ulcers are costly to the horse owner and often hard to do optimally as much of the prescribed medication needs to be given on an empty stomach and 30 or more minutes before food is given. This is particularly hard to achieve in a boarding barn situation.
Another complicating factor of managing horses that have had gastric ulcers is that there is a good chance of them coming back. Whether this is due to the horse’s anxious personality and inability to deal with stress, or the need to be on other medications such as Equiox and bute that are known to increase ulcer risk, many owners face treating their horse for gastric ulcers more than once.
Studies have been done looking at supplements that help to either strengthen the epithelial tissue of the stomach making it better able to resist ulceration, that buffer stomach acid to reduce the acidity, or coating agents that cover the tissue creating a barrier against erosion.
Oils and Equine Gastric Ulcers
Several studies have looked at the effects of using corn oil (CO) in rats, humans and horses and have shown that it may help resolve gastric ulceration especially in the glandular portion of the stomach of horses. Additionally CO has been shown to reduce the amount of gastric acid being released into the stomach. These actions are thought to be due to CO increasing the levels of endogenous prostanoids in the tissue surrounding the stomach.
Prostanoids are lipid mediators that regulate inflammatory response. One of the major components of CO is linoleic acid, a short chain polyunsaturated fat. This omega-6 fat has a high potential for being converted to arachidonic acid which in turn may be converted to intragastric PGE2 (a prostaglandin) in the stomach lining. Provision of CO to horses that had both squamous and glandular ulcers induced by giving them bute for several days showed that levels of PGE2 were increased in the glandular mucosa (1). As a result, ulcers that were in this location within the stomach showed healing after 14 days of being administered CO. This result was similar to that seen in horses treated with sucralfate which is also known to increase PGE2. However, healing was not seen in this study for ulcers in the squamous region which aligns with previous research that reported similar findings (2).
Research recently published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (3) shows that horses supplemented with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) showed a reduction in severe ulcer prevalence. Control horses had a 38 percent prevalence of severe (grade 3 or 4) squamous gastric ulcers versus 8 percent of horses supplemented with LC-PUFA. The source of LC-PUFA in this study was DHA (docosapentaenoic acid) and EPA (ecosapentanoic acid) from fish oil combined with safflower oil.
Published research suggests that short chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (SC-PUFA) such as the linoleic acid found in corn oil may help horses prone to glandular gastric ulcers, while LC-PUFA appears to help squamous gastric ulcers. While corn oil is high in linoleic acid with 60% of the fat content being linolenic, soy oil is a close second with just over 50%. Soy oil has the added advantage of also providing other SC-PUFA such as linolenic acid at about 7% compared to less than 1 % in corn oil.
Equine Omega Complete combines the benefits of SC-PUFA in particular linoleic acid from soybean oil for supporting glandular ulcers with the LC-PUFA benefits of EPA and DHA from fish oil for squamous ulcer support. A number of recent case studies conducted with sport horses in Florida diagnosed with various gastric ulcers and supplemented with Equine Omega Complete show very favorable results.
Equine Omega Complete Case Studies
Case Study One:
A 13 year old Warmblood gelding, was diagnosed with Pyloric ulcers. He was placed on 4 oz of Equine Omega Complete twice a day for 4 weeks and rescoped. His pyloris was found to be improved although not completely healed; however his attitude was reported to have completely returned to normal without relapse to his prior anxious, neurotic behavior that was occurring prior to starting the oil. Further gastroscopy one month later revealed no active ulcers at the pylorus with only a slightly thickened glandular fold and the previous lesion appeared stable and inactive.
Case Study Two:
An 11 year old Warmblood mare presented with recurrent Squamous gastric ulcers and mild colic. After treatment for a month with Gastrogard, the Squamous ulcers had resolved but the pyloric inflammation remained. She was placed on 2 oz of Equine Omega Complete twice daily for a month with no further Gastrogard in the hopes of keeping the Squamous ulcers from returning and resolving the pyloric inflammation. When scoped one month later after attending a show, no squamous ulcers were found and the previous pyloric inflammation had also resolved.
Case Study Three:
An 8 year old Warmblood gelding was diagnosed with Grade 2 Squamous ulcers and Grade 1 Glandular ulcers. He was given 3 oz of Equine Omega Complete twice a day for a month and reevaluated. His owners reported that while he was still kicking out to the leg in canter this behavior had resolved in walk and trot. Gastroscopy revealed that the squamous ulcers had fully resolved and only focal acute glandular erosion was visible. The vet stated that the significance of this erosion was questionable but the horse has remained on the Equine Omega Complete for another month and will be re-scoped shortly.
All three horses showed favorable responses to the Equine Omega Complete. Case studies are on-going but combined with the research published on the benefits of long and short chain PUFA in supporting gastric health in horses, this product appears to provide excellent support for gastric health as well as regulating other inflammatory processes faced by today’s sport horses.
Those needing higher levels of vitamin E will find all the same PUFA benefits in Equine Omega Vitamin E. Additional support can be provided by also adding Equine Omega Oxy Cleanse. This potent antioxidant formula contains the unique PUFA GLA also shown to benefit equine gastric health.
Be sure to support your horse’s gastric health by utilizing the patented products from O3 Animal Health.
- Martinez, Jose & Zuluaga Cabrera, Angélica & Alves, Geraldo Eleno. (2016). Effects of corn oil on the gastric mucosa of horses with induced ulcers. Revista Colombiana de Ciencias Pecuarias. 40. 21. 10.17533/udea.rccp.v29n2a07.
- Frank N, Andrews FM, Elliott SB, Lew BS. Effects of dietary oils on the development of gastric ulcers in mares. Am J Vet Res 2005; 66:2006-2011
- Pagan, J. D., Hauss, A. A., Pagan, E. C., Simons, J. L., & Waldridge, B. M. (2022). Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation increases levels in red blood cells and reduces the prevalence and severity of squamous gastric ulcers in exercised Thoroughbreds, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 260(S3), S121-S128. Retrieved Dec 2, 2022, from https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/260/S3/javma.22.06.0275.xml