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Why do we fast our horses before scoping?

What is scoping? 
Scoping (aka gastroscopy) is an important tool for detection of gastric (stomach) ulcers and their location within the stomach. Scoping allows us as horse owners to rule out or identify gastric ulcers as a cause of behavioural or physical signs we are seeing in our horses. It is also used for monitoring the effectiveness of gastric ulcer treatment and/or management changes implemented to reduce the role risk factors play in gastric ulcers.      

Why do we fast our horses before scoping?
Prior to scoping, most veterinarians will request that horses need to be fasted for no less than 12 hours. This helps ensure the stomach is empty of any feed and allows good visibility of the lining in all areas of the stomach. 

The process prior to scoping which includes fasting and may also involve transportation and changes in environment can all induce a stress response within our horses. We know that stress induces changes in microbial populations in the gut and this may negatively affect the health of our horses. Sedation, which is required for the scoping procedure, has also been shown to induce changes in gut motility and microbiota.    

Use of Stress Paste prior to scoping.
Stress Paste can be used as part of your pre- and post- scoping management to minimise the impact fasting, stress and sedation has on your horse’s gut health. We recommend using Stress Paste 3-4 hours prior to the scoping procedure and again immediately post scoping. 

Beneficial ingredients in Stress Paste and how they can play a role include: 

  • Magnesium Hydroxide – a strong buffer to raise the pH of the stomach fluid that would be very acidic due to fasting
  • Pectin — a sticky substance that coats the upper section of the stomach to provide some protection from acid splash in an empty stomach 
  • Yeast-derived prebiotic — a food source for gut microbes to allow them to maintain numbers during the period that the supply of fibre is reduced due to fasting. As a result, they may become be more resilient to possible stress induced changes in populations.  

A number of veterinarians now recommend the use of Stress Paste as part of their pre-scoping protocol. However, please consult with your veterinarian prior to giving Stress Paste to ensure they are okay for you to do so.  

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