Reasons for performing study: Electrolyte supplementation is common in horses during endurance competitions, but the effect on the gastric mucosa is unknown.
Hypothesis: Repeated oral administration of hypertonic electrolyte solution is associated with exacerbation of gastric ulcers in mature horses.
Methods: The study design was a randomised, blinded, crossover trial. Fourteen horses were divided randomly into equal groups and administered either 60 ml water (placebo) or 56.7 g commercial electrolyte supplement mixed with 60 ml water by dose syringe orally once an hour for 8 h. The minimum concentration of individual constituent electrolytes/28.35 g dry commercial product used was: sodium (5528 mg); chloride (11,886 mg); potassium (3657 mg); calcium (754 mg); and magnesium (153 mg). Gastric lesions were scored prior to and after oral treatments, and analysis of variance procedures were then performed.
Results: Administration of hypertonic electrolytes resulted in a significant increase in mean ulcer number (P = 0.0174) and severity (P = 0.0006) scores in the nonglandular stomach. Mean ulcer number score was 3.6 and mean ulcer severity score 2.7 after hypertonic electrolyte treatment.
Conclusions: Oral hypertonic electrolyte administration to horses in this model was associated with exacerbation of gastric ulcers.
Potential relevance: Our findings suggest that one schedule of electrolyte supplementation used commonly in endurance horses may be harmful to the gastric mucosa.