What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Burping or Belching


It is often said that a horse cannot vomit or belch. In most cases, this is true. Occasionally, however, you may hear a horse belch.

It usually occurs after a nasogastric tube has been passed by a vet, temporarily opening up the tight valve between the esophagus and stomach. In horses with obstruction of the outflow of the stomach, sometimes there is sufficient pressure in the stomach to force air out through the esophagus.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If the horse has no appetite and is obviously depressed.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp>101F/38.3C), or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
    • If you notice signs of colic, along with this sign.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
more observations

your role


What To Do

If you hear a horse burp once, take note of it. If you hear it more than once, carefully assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and look for any other abnormalities or signs of illness. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet assesses the general health of the horse, paying particular attention to conditions that cause colic. Gastroscopy is a logical diagnostic test to perform in a horse that belches frequently but otherwise seems normal.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How many times have you noticed this?
  • Is the horse eating, drinking and behaving normally otherwise?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Do you notice any signs of abdominal pain (colic)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP