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Updated: general colic/ulcer issues & not wanting to drink as a sign of an ulcer?

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  • Updated: general colic/ulcer issues & not wanting to drink as a sign of an ulcer?


    This question is for folks who have horses that have ulcers..

    Has one of the symptoms been refusing to drink?

    I know the typical symptoms include recurrent colic, behaviour change, touchy, loss of appetite, spookiness, acting up under saddle, can be sore/backed, etc.

    Has anyone had their "ulcer" horse stop drinking?

    Last edited by Loves to ride; Nov. 8, 2008, 01:46 PM.

  • #2
    I've actually seen INCREASED drinking when Blush's stomach hurts, not decreased.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Loves to ride View Post
      Has anyone had their "ulcer" horse stop drinking?


      • Original Poster

        weird symptoms of which not drinking is one...

        rcloisonne, please tell me more!
        What other symptoms did your horse have?

        My horse is normally a fabulous drinker. A muck tub a day, every day.

        I want to say first, vet is involved!

        Recently, started being ticklish/flinchy in the right flank. Then, mild colic episodes for the past week, ran a temp of 101.7 or so for 4 days, lethergic and stopped drinking water. I mean completely stopped. He always drinks. Given that he's been colicy, even more concerning. Vet has a few visits, a couple oilings, stop hay, stop grain. Horse is passing some manure but reduced gut sounds on right side. No impaction felt on rectals. Vitals remain good. Pulls blood to find that the horse has a low WBC and is anemic (resting admittedly of 23.)

        Vet is thinking ulcers (argh, horse out 24x7, minimal grain TC low starch, free-choice hay, etc.)

        But I've never heard of not drinking as a symptom?

        So, we're starting the Ulcergard routine to see if there's improvement, with next step off for further diagnostics at the hospital.

        Some of this sounds like typical ulcer symptoms, but not quite everything so figured I'd throw it out there for the COTH crowd to ponder.

        Thanks in advance for comments..


        • #5
          The horse I know that doesn't drink due to ulcers is an aged Arab gelding. How this horse hasn't impacted yet I'll never know. He was treated for ulcers several years ago after scoping showed he was riddled with them. I had to twist the owner's arm to get the scope done (he was a text book ulcer case IMO, teeth grinding and all). She in turn had to get another vet out because her own insisted older horses didn't get ulcers (another story). With in 48 hours after starting Gastrogard the horse was eating AND drinking like a normal horse. Unfortunately, the owner didn't want to change a thing in his management (lots of grain, minimal turnout) and the ulcer symptoms eventually returned. He's back to not drinking (he must drink something but his bucket is usually still filled every morning) and teeth grinding. I'd have white hair if this were my horse.

          Your horse sounds as though he had an infection though. Did he stock up at all? I'm not a vet so take this for what it's worth. My first guess would be Ehrlichiosis. It affects white blood cells. I've seen several cases of this disease in the Northeast, including one of my own. Thankfully, ehrlichiosis is usually a very mild disease but it is best treated with doxycycline (which can cause GI problems too).

          Meanwhile, make sure he's getting enough salt to encourage him to drink. And while I don't usually suggest electrolytes such as Stress-Dex because of the high sugar content, your horse may like that better until he gets his appetite (and drinking urge) back.

          Good luck and keep us posted!

          PS: It certainly won't hurt to give Ulcergard or Gastrogard for a few days to see if that helps. Use a full syringe.


          • #6
            Funny, spoiled brat gets all his ulcer causes taken away!

            I have a horse similar to yours, and he is an awesome drinker- most of the time. Any time an ulcer is forming, he'll sip, but won't drink. (He's a fill 'er up 3-4x per day drinker- with a 5 gal. bucket! Thankfully he pees outside when his stall is open to his paddock- less shavings used!) However, when he gets any kind of bellyache, he shuts down on the drinking, and yes, has gotten slightly impacted b/c of this. Solution to help with ulcers and hydration: soaked beet pulp. (This is not my only solution, but part of it.) He loves it, and still drinks his usual amount of H2O on top of it. (Yes, he pees a lot, but I'm OK with that- it's better than the alternative!)
            Another note: His ulcers are also aggravated when he dehydrates himself, compounding the problem. I now have several toys (Lik-it, salt/ mineral lick, flavored ball) that encourage him to salivate (and keep from destroying everything else, haha!) also helping to drink. I also will flavor his water with his apple juice, peppermint, whatever he feels like when I start noticing the decrease. IN ADDITION, the boy gets a heated bucket in the winter, as cold water does not agree with his royal highness.
            I use U-guard every day, and ulcerguard at least 1x/ month- more when traveling or going to an endurance ride. It works wonders! And as much hay - alfalfa mix- as he will eat. Bare min of grain.

            He's not spoiled, though! {Ththththtpppttt!}
            He truly is high stress, even when not worked, so I give him plenty to destroy... uh... do.
            Standardbred Lover- owner of Studs Hooligan, aka Strider, ex- pacer, retrained for eventing and endurance
            Strider-OTSTB-, Gus-OTTB-, and Rio-rescued QH!
            Founder of the High Maintenance Horses Clique


            • Original Poster

              thanks for replies so far!!

              Thanks for the replies rcloisonne and AJHorsey!

              My horse has had ehrlichiosis in the past, about 3 years ago and had wildly different symptoms. 104+ temp for 4+ days, would not eat anything, was very lethargic. However, the ticks are certainly back out lately and as much as I think I get all of the critters, I'm sure I may have missed some. Good idea to ask the vet on that one!

              I've tried everything to get him to drink. He has heated buckets, flavored buckets, salted buckets, electrolyte buckets. I'm now getting some water into him by mixing a cup of alfalfa pellets into a gallon of warm water and pouring it into his grain bucket. He's resigned himself to that's all he's getting so he drinks it up. He's not back on grain yet, only soaked hay in small amounts so he's getting some small amount of water that way. I also do feed soaked beet pulp with every meal. As a matter of fact, all meals my horses get are soaked so I'm baffled with this.

              Started 1 tube of ulcergard/day yesterday so I'm hoping (fingers crossed!) that is the problem...

              We now have a standing order to admit him if things get worse. I am SO hoping they don't!


              • #8
                When my gelding's ulcers are bothering him (doesn't happen much anymore due to a good maintenance supplement), he nibbles/picks at his hay and just sips water. When it was really bad he wouldn't eat all of his grain, and he was also parking out to try and pee every 15 mins, but that was like the worst it ever got and quickly treated. Two of the first things I noticed were that he wasn't that interested in his hay, and that he went from drinking about 1-1.5 buckets a night to .5 of a bucket. Any consumption, whether food or water, is uncomfortable for a horse with ulcers.
                Gentleman J - "Junior" - My been-there, done-that jumper

                Send Your Love - "Serena" - Aug 10th 2009, Rest in Peace


                • #9
                  I'm the odd man out here - at least my horse is. The one thing I can count on that guy to do consistently is drink! He's a good drinker, even when his ulcers are acting up.
                  Founding Member of "I Kept 'Off Topic Day!' Open"


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks folks!

                    Any other idea that pops into your mind, please share!

                    Going from 12-15 gallons a day to 2-3 is very concerning as he has never, ever done this before.

                    Sigh, horses...


                    • #11
                      My horse had a history of ulcers. He is an OTT TB. I never give him anything with peppermint. Peppermint is very strong and can make ulcers worse.
                      The best views are not always the invisable views.


                      • #12
                        JUst thought this morning about a new flavoring stuff called "Quench". It's like molasses, oats, beet pulp, and more flavoring stuff you put in their bucket. I just got a free sample, and can get you the info on how to get yours to try it, if you're interested! Just PM me, and I'll send you the info. (Going to try it out on my guy, but met a few endurance riders this summer who absolutely LOVE it for their horse!)

                        Also, I think you may already be trying this, but what about just soaking a little (1 cup) of his favorite grain, add carrots (great fiber and ymmy too!), soaked hay cubes, wet hay, whatever, mixed up just to get him to eat and get stuff into his body? That's what my vet did on Strider's overnighters up there. He wasn't too wild on it, but ate the little concoction over the course of the night. Help put his body back into it's digestive routine. (Of course, he was pumped full of drugs and IV fluids too... we had it bad that first time!)

                        What has your vet said? Hmmm... I hope you don't have to use that standing order for the horsie hosp! Jingles and bets wishes to you both!
                        Standardbred Lover- owner of Studs Hooligan, aka Strider, ex- pacer, retrained for eventing and endurance
                        Strider-OTSTB-, Gus-OTTB-, and Rio-rescued QH!
                        Founder of the High Maintenance Horses Clique


                        • #13

                          Is there anything different with your water supply? I would actually sniff the water and taste it. Maybe something is leaking in... Kinda far fetched as you seem you're on top of things but just something to consider.
                          Sorry! But that barn smell is my aromatherapy!
                          One of our horsey bumper stickers! www.horsehollowpress.com
                          Add Very Funny Horse Bumper Stickers on facebook


                          • Original Poster

                            AJHorsey, thanks! I'm getting him to drink some as you suggested, but only because there is alfalfa pellets soaked in. Sigh. I'll keep it up though! Anything to get water into him.. I've read about the Quench and I use HorseTech Nutraflax so I will give them a call..

                            pines4equines, I'm on town water and I haven't read of any activity planned for water changes but that's another great suggestion to check into!

                            We're on day 2 of a full tube of GastroGard so I'm hoping that if it is ulcers, we'll see some improvement in the next day or 2. Vet said this was a possibility given the blood work showed him as being fairly anemic. Vet said since no noticable bleeding externally, could be an ulcer.

                            Current plan (per the vet):
                            Monitor water
                            Monitor temp
                            Slowly re-introduce grain (soaked)
                            Continue soaking hay
                            Call in daily with report of how he is
                            Call immediately if anything changes (for the worse)

                            Course, if it does turn out to be an ulcer... I'm going to have to really ponder what could have caused it... Sigh and thanks everyone for "listening" and responding!

                            Will keep folks updated. Makes me feel better so thanks!


                            • #15
                              I've had ulcers myself and drinking cold water can be really painful. Maybe try giving him some warm water to help keep him hydrated? It doesn't have to be hot, just not cold.


                              • #16
                                Yep. Unfortunately, it took two impactions with two trips to the hospital (thankfully NO SURGERY) before we put two and two together. The little mare would stop drinking in the winter, would get dehydrated and impact. We thought she just didn't like cold water. Finally treated her for ulcers (and why we didn't sooner, I'll never know. She was a very typical ulcer horse in other ways), and her water consumption doubled, at least, all year round. Last winter was the first one after treatment and she drank like a star.


                                • Original Poster

                                  another update (or lack of update I guess)

                                  Thanks yellowbritches!

                                  We're still in a holding pattern. No better, no worse.

                                  Honestly, it could be a slight impaction, it could be ulcers. No one's sure yet. He's eating his soupy alfalfa pellets, rice bran and beet pulp and small amounts of soaked hay given in small feedings all day.

                                  But will not drink (not dehydrated though thank goodness!) He is passing firmer manure than typical for him. He's licking his lips alot and is sore in both flank areas, right more so than left.

                                  He's also eating the fence which he has never done before.
                                  He's also not lying down anymore (used to be like Seabiscuit until recently).

                                  All indications of "something not right with the gut" but nothing leaping out as obvious.

                                  And. Still. Will. Not. Drink. ARGH!

                                  He's clearly uncomfortable, but he's not rolling or acting in any way frantic.

                                  I'm going to give it until he has 5 full doses of Ulcergard in him (Monday) before I completely panic.

                                  Continued thoughts welcome!

                                  This has change a bit from just not drinking with ulcers to be more gut upset so I'll update the title.


                                  • #18
                                    [QUOTE=Loves to ride;3638109]Course, if it does turn out to be an ulcer... I'm going to have to really ponder what could have caused it... QUOTE]

                                    That's the funny thing about ulcers. I could pin my guy's on any of about 5 different things happening around the same time, all of which had happened before and didn't bring on ulcers or at least any symptoms. Maybe it was the combination that was so stressful. This is a horse that usually takes things in stride -- he has never seemed particularly stressed or concerned in new places, at shows, etc. I guess my point is that even in horses that seem to take change or stressful situations well, you never know what's going on inside or whether they're internalizing that stress. When my gelding first showed signs of ulcers, I remember reading something that said 7 out of 10 performance horses have ulcers. WOW!! And then I started thinking of all the horses I've had/ridden, and wondering how many of their behavioral issues were actually symptomatic of ulcers. I bet a number of them had ulcers and just weren't at the point that their eating/drinking was affected. It's tough to pin down exactly what sets it off, so I would say your best bet, if he does have ulcers, is to treat as you are doing and then keep him on a maintenance supplement and use Ulcergard in situations that you know may be stressful.
                                    Gentleman J - "Junior" - My been-there, done-that jumper

                                    Send Your Love - "Serena" - Aug 10th 2009, Rest in Peace


                                    • #19
                                      There was a gelding that I did a lot of care for when working at one barn who developed ulcers and refused to drink (among other symptoms). We tried everything- adding stuff to his water, giving him electrolytes etc... nothing worked. The vet finally inserted a GN tube and taught me how to give him fluids every few hours. It got to the point where the vet basically said "you can't keep the tube in him forever. If the horse doesn't want to drink, let him die...if he wants to live he'll eventually figure out he needs to drink". I don't quite remember how we got him to drink but he eventually did and in the meantime we kept him hydrated by the GN fluids and soaked feed/forage.
                                      "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"


                                      • #20
                                        Wood chewing was another thing our little one did. She also did not eat well and was hard to keep weight one. The wood chewing stopped and she became a far easier keeper once her ulcers were treated. She also had a couple of really mild "I just feel like crap" colic episodes.

                                        AND, to confirm things a bit more for you, my old guy, Neigh, colicked quite badly awhile ago, to the point that I thought I was going to lose him. This is a guy who is very laid back and always has been. On top of that, he was retired and lived out 24/7, so no training stress and no "bad" horse keeping practices. We took him to the hospital to scope him, thinking we were going to find cancer (his med. history and some complications in tubing him made that seem likely). Instead, we found he was RIDDLED with horrible ulcers. Go figure.

                                        You should see improvement soon.