Thu. May 30th, 2024

From Diagnosis to Recovery: EGGD Journey for Horses

3 min read

Equine Glandular Gastric Disease (EGGD) can be challenging for horse owners and veterinarians. Understanding the journey from diagnosis to recovery is crucial for managing this condition effectively and ensuring the well-being of our equine companions.

Understanding EGGD

EGGD is a specific form of gastric ulcers in horses that affects the glandular portion of the stomach. Unlike the more commonly known squamous ulcers, which impact the non-glandular or squamous region, EGGD involves inflammation and ulceration in the glandular mucosa. This distinction is important because it affects both diagnosis and treatment strategies.

Diagnosing EGGD typically involves a combination of clinical signs and gastroscopy. Horses with EGGD may display subtle symptoms such as poor performance, weight loss, or changes in behaviour. Gastroscopy, which allows direct visualisation of the stomach lining, is the gold standard for diagnosing EGGD. The presence of lesions or reddening in the glandular region confirms the diagnosis.

Treatment Approaches

Once diagnosed, treatment strategies for EGGD aim to reduce gastric acid secretion, encourage healing of ulcerated tissues, and manage underlying factors contributing to ulcer development. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like omeprazole are commonly used to suppress acid production, relieving the damaged gastric mucosa. Additionally, mucosal protective agents such as sucralfate may be prescribed to enhance healing.

However, managing EGGD effectively requires a multifaceted approach beyond medication. Research on EGGD is still limited, so most nutritional recommendations are based on those recommended for Equine Squamous Gastric Disease (ESGD). Dietary adjustments, including frequent feeding of high-fibre forage, may help buffer gastric acid and reduce ulcer severity. Increasing the frequency of forage feeding can stimulate saliva production, which acts as a natural buffer against stomach acid. Access to free-choice hay or pasture grazing also supports digestive health by encouraging continuous forage consumption.

In addition to medication and dietary changes, reducing stress is critical for successful EGGD treatment. Stress is thought to exacerbate gastric ulceration in horses, so implementing management practices that promote relaxation and well-being is essential. Providing ample turnout time (if the horse tolerates this well), social interactions with other horses, and a consistent daily routine may help reduce stress levels and support overall digestive health. Providing at least two days of rest per week is also preferable for horses with EGGD.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Recovery from EGGD is a gradual process that demands patience and consistency. Even with appropriate treatment, healing can take weeks to months, depending on the severity of ulceration and individual horse factors. Regular follow-up gastroscopy exams are crucial to monitor healing progress and adjust treatment plans accordingly.

Providing an optimal environment for the horse’s well-being is vital during the recovery phase. This includes maintaining a consistent feeding schedule, reducing stress during exercise and handling, and ensuring access to clean water and appropriate forage. Attention to these details can significantly contribute to the success of EGGD treatment.

Avoiding Recurrence

Avoiding the recurrence of EGGD involves ongoing management strategies tailored to the individual horse. These include long-term dietary modifications, stress reduction techniques, and regular veterinary monitoring. Implementing lifestyle changes that support digestive health, such as turnout time and social interactions with other horses, may also reduce stress and, therefore, the risk of ulcer development.

Owners should remain vigilant for signs of recurrence, such as changes in behaviour or performance, and promptly consult with their veterinarian if concerns arise. Early intervention may help address potential issues before they escalate, improving the likelihood of long-term success in managing EGGD.

The Role of Nutritional Support

Nutritional support is also important to consider when managing EGGD. A balanced diet that meets the horse’s nutritional needs without overloading the stomach is key. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals of high-quality forage helps maintain gastric health by reducing the risk of acid splashing onto ulcerated tissues.

Consulting with an equine nutritionist can help create a feeding program that supports the horse’s recovery and reduces the risk of EGGD recurrence.

Navigating the journey from EGGD diagnosis to recovery requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying causes and supports the horse’s overall well-being. With proper veterinary care, management adjustments, and nutritional support, horses affected by EGGD can experience significant improvement in their condition and quality of life. By understanding the challenges associated with EGGD and implementing proactive measures, we can optimise outcomes and ensure a brighter future for our equine companions.