Gastric ulcers in pigs appear to be on the rise, according to reports. Do you know what to look for in your herd?

A combination of clinical signs and post-mortem observations provide an accurate diagnosis of gastric ulcers. Here are clinical signs, categorized as peracute, acute and chronic.

Peracute:

  • Death or collapse of apparently healthy pigs.
  • Very pale carcass, due to hemorrhaging.

Acute:

  • Pigs are weak and wobbly on their legs.
  • Anemic, with increased respiration.
  • Animals have pale skin.
  • Appear to be dehydrated.
  • Teeth grinding—due to stomach pain.
  • Pigs lie down and fidget, trying to find a comfortable position.
  • Tail and ear biting.
  • Bloody, tarry looking feces. Vomiting may also be noted.
  • Animal is generally anorexic, with normal temperature.

Chronic:

  • Pigs with intermittent appetites and possible weight loss. 
  • Weak animals — may be misdiagnosed as pneumonia in growing pigs.
  • In some cases the esophageal entrance becomes narrow and a stricture occurs. Pigs vomit shortly after feeding.
  • Many gastric ulcer lesions are incidental findings on a post-mortem with no clinical symptom.

  “Using clinical signs, we can point out pale, poor-doing pigs with tarry stools as likely suffering from ulcers,” says Robert Friendship, a veterinarian with the Department of Population Medicine at Canada’s University of Guelph. “But a look at the esophageal area confirms the findings. Not all pale, poor-doing pigs suffer from gastric ulcers.”

Feces should be examined for blood and the animal’s stomach for lesions or ulceration to differentiate gastric ulcers from hemorrhage of the bowel, eperythrozoonsis, the red stomach worm (Hyostrongylus rubidus) and porcine enteropathy.