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Foal with ulcers

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  • Foal with ulcers

    I figured I would post this just as an FYI, as I had never heard of this sort of presentation of ulcers before.

    I have a foal who has been choking off and on (well, probably a lot more than I have noticed) since before he was weaned. I noticed it the first time when he was about 3 months old, he was eating grain with his mother and then shortly after feeding them, I found him choking mildly. He cleared it in a few minutes and was fine after that. I noticed him choking one other time while he was still with his mother, but this time they had been eating off the ground, not from a bucket. Again, he was fine in a few minutes.
    After weaning, I noticed him choking with a bit more frequency. I had the vet out to check his teeth to make sure that wasn't the problem and they found his teeth slightly sharp, so they floated them, hoping that would solve the problem. It did not. It did not matter if he was fed in a bucket, on the ground, the food was wet down, only a little bit of grain was given, etc... He kept periodically choking. Every time, he would pass it on his own and not have a problem afterward.

    Finally, the vet suggested he be scoped to make sure that he didn't have a mechanical problem with his esophagus, etc... and also to rule out ulcers. He was scoped today and has horrendous bleeding ulcers!!!!! The vet said "these are as bad as they get". The ulcers are all the way up to the opening of his stomach, so the vet surmises that it is very painful for him to swallow. Therefore, he is hesitant to swallow properly, which leads to these choke episodes.

    I was shocked! With the exception of the choking, this foal has NO signs of ulcers; he also has none of the pre-disposing factors for ulcers. He lives outside 24/7 (and has his whole life) in the herd. He has forage in front of him 24/7. He gets very little grain. He has never been sick, injured, stressed, etc.... He's never had medication. His mother was not given medication during her pregnancy. He was weaned with his BFF and took it like a pro. I can't imagine how he would develop ulcers this bad?!?!?

    He will now be on a month of Gastro-Guard and will be re-scoped to make sure they are all gone.

    I am curious if anyone else has ever experienced this sort of presentation of ulcers??

  • #2
    Ooh poor boy! Hope he feels better soon Eliza.

    Thanks for the update, I have never had a foal who I knew had ulcers, so I appreciate your post and will file it in my memory banks.
    Like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/edgewoodmeadowfarm


    • #3
      This sounds exactly like my weanling minus the diagnosis (yet). I actually had a long thread on the Horse Care board about it; I thought she had ulcers, but she wasn't reacting to Ulcergard or ranitidine treatment at all. Someone on here suggested choke so I started giving her mush for food, but after a few days of eating better, she started doing the same thing again. I called the vet and described the exact same symptoms as you posted that started just after weaning like with your baby, and he said mild choke as well. He's scheduled to come out Thursday to scope her, and I can barely wait. I'm praying it's "just" ulcers and nothing worse. I'll let you know how the scoping goes.

      Good luck with your baby; it sounds like you're on the right path now, and your little boy is going to feel so much better. I'll be interested to hear if anyone else has experienced something like this in their foal or weanling.


      • #4
        My vet group just sent a letter to all the clients informing them that ulcers are much more prevalent in horses then commonly believed.
        Holly Hill Farm


        • #5

          OH MY I am such a worrywart and now I will be even more so with the 4 weanlings. I watch them like a hawk, but ULCERS? Never thought about it with them Thanks for the heads up and my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

          Keep us updated. We do care. sandy
          hunter/jumper ponies


          • #6
            I've never had one present like this but I'm glad you shared -- I wouldn't have guessed it from the symptoms, that's for sure. Jingles for a speedy recovery for the little guy.
            Kendra -- Runningwater Warmbloods
            Home of EM Raleska (Rascalino/ Warkant) and Donatella M (Furstenball/ Jazz Time)
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            • #7
              Thanks for sharing, Eliza. I would never have guessed that either. Good luck with the little guy for a speedy and complete recovery. Kudos to you for staying on it until it got diagnosed.


              • #8
                Hope your colt recobers smoothly Eliza. Thanks for sharing - I would not have expected something like this either, and I appreciate the learning.
                Sunny Days Hanoverians


                • #9
                  Best wishes to your foal. Sounds really awful though, I would be worried sick. We did have a newborn once that would nurse, stop, swallow, walk away, nurse some more, as if wanting to nurse, but seemed somehow conflicted about it. Our vet said that ulcers were common in newborn foals. We treated with gastroguard for a few days, and all was well.
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                  • #10
                    jingles for a full and speedy recovery!!!!!


                    • #11
                      OP--wishing your little one a speedy recovery!! But how crazy??
                      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/