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My horse burps . . . or something. UPDATE: Vet visited today!

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  • My horse burps . . . or something. UPDATE: Vet visited today!

    So I wasn't really sure where to put this, as it's a sort of bizarre question. My horse, an 8yo Dutch mare, burps. I don't know if technically that's what it is, but based on my life experience, that is what I'm seeing. It can happen any time, grooming, riding, in the stall, wherever (though she's always either halted or walking when I've seen her do it). She just kind of gets all rumbly in her belly and then out it comes, complete with embarrassing noise. There's also a pretty gross smell with it too - I would describe it as onion grass and stomach fluid. Nothing ever comes up, and it doesn't seem to cause her any distress. It seems to happen more in spring and fall. Also, the barn I board at just fertilized the fields (with something horse-safe, I read the bag but forgot the name, obviously ).

    I'm just wondering if this is a normal thing that other horses do or if it could be indicative of a health issue? I know they're not supposed to burp - ever since I started riding I was told their digestive systems don't allow them to - but then what is my horse doing? She did have colic surgery, oh, three years ago now, and seems to have about one very mild colic per year on average (usually of the 'AHHH BELLY HURTING oh 0.5cc Banamine I'm good now fooooooodd' progression and debatably related to her heat cycles). Could it be related to that? Or a symptom of something else? Does anyone else's horse even do this? I remember my first pony doing something similar once or twice, but we're talking a couple times a day here, not once or twice in the entire time I've owned her.
    Last edited by 00Jumper; Oct. 7, 2008, 11:27 PM.

    "You keep one leg on one side, the other leg on the other side, and your mind in the middle." -- Henry Taylor, "Riding Lesson"

  • #2
    Mine used to hiccough if she was worried.... but that's more a suck in than a burp out. She doesn't do it anymore but I've heard a lot of her siblings do it when they are young.


    • #3
      My Humble Opinion (is there such a thing, ) ... Have her checked for ulcers. Ulcers could maybe account for the belching and the horrible odors.


      • Original Poster

        I was wondering if ulcers would maybe be the root of it - she is a show horse and has had periods of stress (surgery when she was younger). I'm just trying to find all solutions first, so that I don't jump right in and shell out the bucks for Gastroguard if it's unnecessary.

        I was also wondering about putting her on probiotics, and seeing if that helps, both with the burping (the big issue at the moment) and her little colic events (thankfully few, mild and far between). She is on an anti-colic regimen (lots of forage, plenty of exercise and turnout, more water than she can drink, electrolytes top-dressed on her feed, etc.) and like I said she really has been very good in that respect, but maybe adding probiotics to her feed could also help? Has anyone had any experience with these?

        Obviously I would talk to my vet before doing any of this stuff but just wondering if I could get some first-hand feedback.

        "You keep one leg on one side, the other leg on the other side, and your mind in the middle." -- Henry Taylor, "Riding Lesson"


        • #5
          Wow. If she's prone to belching AND colicking, I would definitely ask my vet about the possibility of ulcers. Frequent colic is a classic sign.


          • #6
            When my gelding was in work, he would burp relatively frequently. He was the nervous nelly type, and eventually after a couple of colicky episodes was thought to have ulcers and put on U-Gard. The burping subsided.

            Now he's retired, and he doesn't burp as much... he also lives the non-stress life of Riley, lucky bugger...
            I'm not one to say I toadaso. But I toadaso. - Ricky


            • Original Poster

              Hmmm . . . ulcers are sounding more and more likely. Thanks for the great replies! I am going to talk to my mom (who is great and foots the bill ) about getting the vet out to check for ulcers. I know most show horses have them, so it really wouldn't be much of a surprise. But if it can make her more comfortable, then I'm all for it. She's a pretty mellow horse - doesn't really get flustered often or anything, doesn't have a very stressful life other than horse shows. But you never know - maybe she's more stressed than she lets on!

              Thanks again guys! Next step is definitely talking to the vet about it.

              "You keep one leg on one side, the other leg on the other side, and your mind in the middle." -- Henry Taylor, "Riding Lesson"


              • #8
                Some horses don't stress up on the outside, but inside they are a bundle of nerves. Just like some people I guess. My horse is like that. Scoping sounds like where you are heading. Good Luck.


                • #9
                  My TB gelding belched from time to time. He was susceptable to colic, but we never found belching episodes to be coincident with colic.
                  The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                  Winston Churchill


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Frank B View Post
                    My TB gelding belched from time to time. He was susceptable to colic, but we never found belching episodes to be coincident with colic.
                    They don't have to happen at the same time or even nearly the same time. The point is that the belching and colic are both symptoms of gastric ulcers.


                    • #11
                      Sounds like ulcers to me. Our young gelding had a bad ulcer, when it was at it's worst (before diagnosis and treatment) he was burping as well.

                      The only way they can test for ulcers, I believe, is by scoping, and even then they may miss ulcers that are far back in the digestive system.

                      It wouldn't hurt to just start treating your mare and see if things improve.


                      • #12

                        Originally posted by bonds View Post
                        Sounds like ulcers to me. Our young gelding had a bad ulcer, when it was at it's worst (before diagnosis and treatment) he was burping as well.

                        The only way they can test for ulcers, I believe, is by scoping, and even then they may miss ulcers that are far back in the digestive system.

                        It wouldn't hurt to just start treating your mare and see if things improve.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks for the feedback guys! Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to get a call to the vet in until next Tuesday, but hopefully it won't be long until he can make it out to see her. Seems like at a big training barn he's always out there for something. I have gotten the all-clear to scope her from the financial components (thanks, 'rents ) so it sounds like that's where we're heading. Now I think about it, she's also been really bad to ride recently, off-and-on, which I think is also an ulcer symptom. We've just been thinking it was her being a poot but maybe not!

                          So thanks for the advice, guys! When the vet comes I will ask about scoping her, putting her on a regimen for ulcer treatment and maybe adding some probiotics to her food too. And of course drop back for an update!

                          "You keep one leg on one side, the other leg on the other side, and your mind in the middle." -- Henry Taylor, "Riding Lesson"


                          • #14
                            What everyone's said could be right on the money...but for the sake of not getting too wound up yet--I had a morgan gelding who did the same thing. Can't swear he didn't have ulcers, but he was the healthiest little horse. Never colicked, acted off, anything. He was a bit of a goof, so we always made jokes about him being a belching, beer drinking, jeep driving kinda guy...I can't relate his burping to anything--usually he was just hanging out in his stall at home and would let one rip!


                            • #15
                              My ulcer-prone horse burps when he gets ulcers. The burping goes away when he's ulcer-free, but it's one of the first signs I see when he begins getting ulcers again. (And for what it's worth, my horse is typically very healthy, has never coliced, etc. The vets didn't think he had ulcers at first until I made them check anyway.)
                              A lovely horse is always an experience.... It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. ~Beryl Markham


                              • #16
                                I had a horse that did this too. I was told by the vet hospital that it is because the stomach contents do not empty into the cecum (?) at a fast enough rate so the gas build up from bacteria breaking down the food has nowhere to go back up the esophagus. It is 'burping' --but passive. If he ate too much at one time, he would get gas colic and blow up like a balloon. Anyway, I had to change his feed and feeding routine. Small amounts of easy to digest foods several times a day and that did the trick. No more gas =) Mine was scoped for ulcers and did not have any.


                                • Original Poster

                                  So the vet came out today for Miss Maresie to check out her burping. Based on her symptoms he was very concerned about serious ulcers, so despite the nose-diving stock market I splurged on a scope. So we drew blood (just in case), tranqed her up and stuck a camera into her stomach. And . . .

                                  No ulcers! Okay, well, one or two very small ones, but he wasn't concerned, nor did he think they were worth treating. So in the end he was very glad he drew blood, so now he can run tests on it. He is worried that she might have food caught in her stomach, or hair or tumors (I sure hope not ). However based on the fact that she is an otherwise healthy horse, with an already-thick, shiny winter coat underway and a nice constant fat pad all over (what? She likes food) he doesn't think those things are likely. As of now he thinks it is probably just her - she eats a little slowly, maybe, or she's just weird. So fingers crossed for good bloodwork!

                                  And also, if I may, I would like some jingles for our gray mare. We got to a bad spot in my lesson today, she stopped, and in a weird turn of events got her hind left foot caught in the PVC gate under the fence. After sawing the gate off, she walked back to the barn with a little hitch but weight-bearing. As I was cold-hosing her, she was not eagerly weight-bearing. After about thirty minutes of cold-hosing and getting some wraps on her, she was bearing weight pretty well and with some banamine she was 100% sound. Tomorrow we will check her first thing in the morning and if she is no better or worse after being wrapped and kept in all night we will call the vet. I feel so terrible for doing this to my poor baby - I love my horses more than the world and the thought that she hurt herself due to me is awful to stomach - I can't remember crying so hard. So if you all could jingle for the Monster's recovery that would be great, thanks. She actually took the whole thing much better than I did - I was an absolute mess and she was pulling at the crossties trying to get out to the field with her buddy. So hopefully it's as minor as she seems to think it is.
                                  Last edited by 00Jumper; Oct. 8, 2008, 08:23 AM.

                                  "You keep one leg on one side, the other leg on the other side, and your mind in the middle." -- Henry Taylor, "Riding Lesson"


                                  • #18
                                    Jingles to all three of you---Even horse moms need them.


                                    • #19
                                      just because he didn't see more...

                                      Let me start by saying - I'm not a vet but...

                                      Really, I think you should try treating her for ulcers, as I said earlier the scope only goes so far in the digestive track and ulceration can happen past that point. If she has a few visible ones what can it hurt to treat her? If she has a bad one further back then it would certainly help.

                                      If you want to save some $s rather than going the full ulcergard route, which really does work. You can try her on a combination of Maalox and some form of omeprazole. This was a route I tried until finally biting the bullet and laying out the big $s for the gelding. It did improve him but didn't cure him.

                                      I bought the cheapest form of omeprazole at walmart and he got I think around 10 pills three times a day...? I simply through it into his feed. Others can help out here, this was a few years back. I also syringed Maalox into him and fed him handfuls of tums from time to time whenever he looked uncomfortable. I think this can work quite well depending on the severity.

                                      He really did improve a lot with this treatment, however the sypmtoms would show up again from time to time, so finally had to put him on a fairly long treatment of ulcergard. He now is on Ugard as a daily supplement and no more problems (touch wood).

                                      With him his initial sign that he had ulcer pain would be knee chewing, if ignored it would move to diving at his flank. At it's worst he would spin as well...

                                      From everything you've said she sounds like a classic ulcer case.

                                      Also, if you can add alfalfa to her diet that's helpful, the extra calcium helps to buffer the acid.


                                      • #20
                                        Please don't waste your money on buying OTC omeperazole. Crushing the pills or having them chewed destroys their ability to be properly absorbed. Omeperazole is only absorbed in the small intestine and is rapidly destroyed by stomach acid. The Gastrogard is buffered to prevent the destruction of the active ingredient and have it absorbed properly in the small intestine. It drives me crazy that people assume because the active ingredient is the same that the bio-availability is as well. It's not, and would be a waste of money and time, not to mention potentially damaging to the horse by delaying appropriate treatment.