Ask the Vet – Detection and treatment for ulcers in horses

Ask the Vet – Detection and treatment for ulcers in horses


SARAH: Ryan would love to know more about
ulcers in horses and recommendations as far as detection, but also treatment methods,
and then long-term maintenance for what Ryan is calling an “ulcery” horse. I think we all know one of those. DR LYDIA GRAY: I use a little bit different
language. So he uses the word ‘detection,’ and I would
use ‘diagnosis.’ Yeah. And that’s something that your veterinarian
does. There’s only really one way to definitively
diagnose gastric ulcers, and that is with an endoscope. So they stick the video scope through the
nose, down into the stomach, and they actually visualize them. SARAH: How does it go from the nose to the
stomach? The nose goes to the lungs for breathing. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, you go through the sinus
passages. And then when it comes to the throat area,
instead of continuing into the respiratory passages, you slip down an opening and go
into the esophagus. SARAH: And because the vet has the endoscope
with the camera, they can see where they’re going. DR LYDIA GRAY: They can. They’re driving it. It’s quite cool. SARAH: Very sciencey. DR LYDIA GRAY: Horses though don’t like it
as much. So they will be sedated for that and fasted. So it’s not inexpensive, and it’s not– it
is a little bit invasive. So not everyone does it. The next method then is response to treatment. And again, there’s only one FDA-approved medication
for ulcers, and that’s GastroGard, is the brand name. Omeprazole is the chemical name. And so you can give that prescription from
your veterinarian. You give that, and then after a day or two,
you see if your horse is better. And that would be what’s called response to
treatment. SARAH: Oh, OK. So you’re kind of by solving the problem,
seeing if it corrects it, then you know– DR LYDIA GRAY: You’re on the right track. SARAH: If it worked, it probably was the problem
to begin with. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And so if it worked, you have to keep giving
the GastroGard because at least 14 days– 21 or 28’s more like it– but your veterinarian
will tell you based on the severity of the ulcers. But in addition, there are some things that
you need to do. So you need to sort of look at your whole
feeding and management, turnout, exercise, show schedule, plan, and say, am I creating
too much stress for my horse? Do I need to back off a little bit? Do I need to reduce the exercise a little
bit while he heals? Am I feeding him correctly? Because remember horses feed all day long. And in modern horse keeping, we might give
them two huge meals, like morning and night. And that’s just not enough for their system
which is continuously producing acid in the stomach. So they need to swallow. The saliva is basic, and it buffers the acid. They need food, forage, also in that. Hay all the time, small hole hay nets are
the– did he say ulcery horse? SARAH: Ulcery horse. DR LYDIA GRAY: Small hole hay nets are the
ulcery horse’s friend. Really, really like those. But keeping hay in front of a horse all the
time is really the number one thing you can do. SARAH: So with horses constantly producing
stomach acid, that’s not like people. DR LYDIA GRAY: Not quite. It’s one of the differences between horses
and humans. SARAH: And so that’s why horses tend to be
more ulcer-prone when we feed them on a human sort of schedule. DR LYDIA GRAY: When it’s convenient for us. Yeah. Their stomachs are made in two parts, and
the acid that’s accumulating sloshes around to parts that it shouldn’t when there’s not
enough food coming through and using it up and neutralizing the acid. SARAH: So you talked about when you’re treating
a horse for ulcers, you can evaluate the situation and look for areas of stress. Are there ways if you know your horse is going
to be experiencing stress that you can better help prepare them for that so that you don’t
end up– if you say you’re going to be at a horse show for a long weekend or something
and that’s tough on your horse, is there stuff you can do to prepare in advance? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Well, put some thought into– am I doing the
right thing? Do I need to bring a friend along? But also, the same company that makes the
GastroGard makes another FDA approved product called UlcerGard. So it’s the same medication, Omeprazole, but
a lower amount. And you can give that as a ulcer preventative,
which is nice. There’s another thing you can do. So it’s a three-pronged approach, which is
you can have a supplement that has some proven ingredients in it to maintain stomach health
on board all the time and then ramp it up with the UlcerGard for a show. And then if your horse does break through
and has ulcers again– because he’s prone and you maybe haven’t fixed all your issues–
then there’s always the GastroGard left. SARAH: OK. And when you say a supplement with proven
ingredients, do you think SmartGut Ultra, which was in the research study at the clinical
university? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. That’s the one I’m talking about. SARAH: The right sort of choice for a horse
long-term. DR LYDIA GRAY: I do because LSU and Dr. Frank
Andrews did some research on that. And they presented it at AAEP not last year. So not 2015, but 2014. And it was just really tremendous. Lots of significance with what they did. SARAH: I’ve heard a really positive response
from a lot of veterinarians who were impressed by the research and excited to have an option
for that ulcery horse in terms of long-term maintenance and supporting a healthy stomach. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Just keeping the stomach healthy and happy. Yeah.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *