Equine Gastric Acid - 12 Facts You May Not Know
Did You Know?
2. The average 1,000 pound horse produces 16 gallons a day of gastric/hydrochloric acid. That equates to .66 gallons per hour (16 gallons divided by 24 hours). The stomach only has a 2 to 4 gallon capacity.
3. Chewing and swallowing activate saliva production (an alkaline substance). Saliva buffers gastric acid by increasing the pH of the stomach.
4. Stress, travel and medications can increase stomach acid levels.
5. Never exercise or transport your horse on an empty stomach. Fiber creates a mat of sorts, which prevents acid from splashing in the stomach. An empty stomach allows accumulated unbuffered (lack of saliva from chewing) gastric acid to slosh and bathe its lining.
6. Gastric acid left unbuffered is the leading cause for gastric ulcers followed by stress. Ulcers can develop in as little as 24 hours - and recur in 24 hours respectively.
7. Researchers have determined that gastro-esophageal reflux can occur in horses despite the tight sphincter that separates the esophagus and stomach by characterizing esophageal lumen pH.
8. Ulcerations as a result of unbuffered hydrochloric acid occur in the entrance of the duodenum as well as the stomach.
10. Using proton pump inhibitors (Omeprazole) long term can have adverse effects. Long term stomach acid suppression can affect protein digestion and risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Gastric acid serves a crucial and intricate role in overall digestion.
11. Gastric acid is an important component of the immune system. It’s the first line of defense from ingested harmful microorganisms.
12. The crucial and initial stages of digestion by gastric acid are not fully realized if feedstuff exits quickly. The faster feedstuff is consumed, the less time it spends in the stomach buffering acid. Once the stomach becomes two-thirds full it begins to empty regardless of how well the particles are prepared to advance to the small intestine.
Taking Everything into Account
We hope these facts help illustrate the importance of free choice forage (loose or slow fed hay or pasture with or without a muzzle) for horses, donkeys and mules as nature intended.
Helpful How to Resources
- Preventing Equine Gastric Ulcers - How Forage Buffers Acid
- Causes of Equine Ulcers – 7 Stress Factors & Solutions
- A Safer Always Have Hay Source
- Sand Colic - The Surprising (Simple) Cure & Prevention
- 7 Slow Feed Dos and Dont's for Horses
- 9 Benefits of Slow Feeding Horses
- How to Introduce & Incorporate Free-Choice Forage: A Detailed Action Plan
- Slow Feed Solutions for Any Environment
- Feeding Miniature Horses & Donkeys: Why Slow Fed Forage is Best
- How I Chose the Best Slow Feeder for My Horse
- 7 Easy Ways to Help Prevent Colic
- Never Exercise Horses on an Empty Stomach...Ever
- Why You Shouldn't Transport Horses On An Empty Stomach
- Keeping Horses Warm Naturally – Internally and Externally
- Why Most Horses Prefer to Eat Outside
- Wilson C.S., Brookes V.J., Hughes K.J., Trope G.D., Ip H., Gunn A.J.. (2017, May) Oesophageal lumen pH in yearling horses and effects of management and administration of omeprazole. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27383615
- Andrews, F. M., DVM, MS, DACVIM-LA. Gastric Ulcers in Horses. Retrieved from https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/gastrointestinal-ulcers-in-large-animals/gastric-ulcers-in-horses