I think my horse has Stomach Ulcers! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 03-08-2011, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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I think my horse has Stomach Ulcers!

So my trainer and I suspect my 7 yr old OTTB has stomach ulcer(s). I have had him since he was 4 and from the time we got him he has been hard to keep weight on--and he gets beat up( his coat takes FOREVER to heal the scabs and bites) and his coat is a bit dull and after 6 weeks of training in aiken, getting ridden everyday and showing alot, his muscles seem like they havent proved what so ever.

He also is constantly worrying about things, the cows at our barn, while in aiken, he would get stressed when his neighboring pasture buddy went to get ridden and would pace at the gate until he came back, and always just very tense

If any of you have had experience with horses with Ulcers, is there a cheaper alternative to the normal treatment? Money is a bit tight since i flew down an extra week so i could do my first training event, so Im planning on (im 16) getting a job so i can help pay for any expenses regarding scoping him to see if he has them, and any other treatments.

Poor Mouse!
here is a picture for reference:


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post #2 of 17 Old 03-08-2011, 09:26 PM
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How is his appetite? If he gobbles his grain, it's probably not an ulcer. Does he make faces when you brush his belly or tighten his girth? If you want to treat for ulcers regardless, just 3 to 4 days of Gastrogard will heal most mild ulcers, and then you can switch to much cheaper things like bananas and Smartgut pellets. 24/7 turnout is usually better than being confined to a stall for horses with ulcers and lots of hay is preferred to grain. That's all I've got for now.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #3 of 17 Old 03-08-2011, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Before he went to aiken he used to get almost 8 lbs of grain a day, he would take a longg time to eat it, now he gets a third bucket of beet pulp and (i know im a terrible owner for not knowing what he gets now) my trainers changed his diet for his grain while i was gone so its less grain but still high fat diet. He is sensitive around his belly when i brush it, sometimes he threatens to bite so i always use the very soft curry combs since he relaxes when i use that


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post #4 of 17 Old 03-08-2011, 09:37 PM
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It does sound like he has a sensitive tummy. Changing his diet a lot can't be helping. If he likes bananas, start working one a day into his diet. They are a good natural remedy for ulcers. I know it's expensive, but if you can get your hands a few days worth of Gastrogard, that stuff is magic. The more hay you can keep in front of his face, the better. His system will be able to handle itself better if there is a more constant source of forage going through.

With the beet pulp, know that the calcium to phosphorus ration on that stuff is inverted. Over the long term, it will leave him without enough calcium in his diet. I think it's 6:1 Phosphorus to calcium while they should be 2:1 calcium to phosphorus. If it becomes a problem, it would show up in poor hoof quality first.

You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.
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post #5 of 17 Old 03-08-2011, 09:53 PM
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Ulcers in OTTBs isn't uncommon at all.

Also, if you have a big 60cc syringe from a vet (though a small one from like Walmart will work, just a bigger pain to give), give him 60ccs of Pepto-Bismol once or twice a day. It works the same in horses as humans, so it'll make him feel better. It won't heal obviously, but it'll ease their tummy ache.

You could talk to your vet about a product called Draw. It's meant for cleaning exterior wounds, but the main active ingredient is magnesium, so it heals ulcers too. My vet gave me that. My mare got 60ccs twice a day in a little bit of grain (so she'd eat it). Cleared them up in a month for $80. And since I don't have a trailer and the clinic is over an hour away, she used Abby's symptoms, personality, and some acupuncture to determine ulcers. Random, I know, but it worked.

GastroGard is magic, like stated before. You'll notice a difference in two days, it's just extremely expensive. Also, starting him on U-Gard after he heals up could keep them from coming back. My BO uses it on their show horses and swears by it. Abby was started on it last week. It does take about 3 months to take full effect though. Stateline has it the cheapest that I know of.
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post #6 of 17 Old 03-08-2011, 10:02 PM
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I suspected my OTTB mare had ulcers so did some research and started her on Ranitidine(generic zantac) I go to walmart and get a box of 65 150mg tablets for $4.00, i give her 13 tabs twice a day, so i need 12 boxes for a month of treatment, i have seen amazing results in the 2 weeks she has been on it, i have a thread with more detail here Ranitidine is amazing!!!!
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post #7 of 17 Old 03-08-2011, 11:42 PM
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Changing the diet is very important. Eliminating all grains is the best place to start. Adding the BP and oil to help keep his weight up is great. BP has 6 times more Ca:P. That's beneficial because the Ca acts like an antacid by buffering stomach acids. Alfalfa hay has these same benefits. If he can't be out 24/7 small frequent meal are important too. You don't want more than 6 hours of non eating time. Putting an extra flake of hay in a double hay bag will keep him occupied and keep something in his stomach all night.
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post #8 of 17 Old 03-09-2011, 12:12 AM
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Ditto to above advise. Racehorses and other intensively kept/fed horses commonly have ulcers. Cut the grain & any other 'junk food'(molasses, etc) and feed a healthy, high roughage diet, ensuring that he's got free choice - or at least little & very often - feed. 24/7 turnout is also good for all round health, but free movement also helps digestion specifically too.

Oh almost forgot to mention, you seem to be doing a good job of keeping his weight up despite the probs - he looks a good weight in the pics, not light-on.

Last edited by loosie; 03-09-2011 at 12:15 AM.
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post #9 of 17 Old 03-12-2011, 11:01 AM
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Ulcers are common in horses in general. It is partly because their stomachs constantly secrete acid, unlike our own which only secrete it when we are eating/about to eat a meal. They are made that way because they are supposed to be constantly eating.

There is no way to know that your horse has ulcers without scoping or treating and looking for improvement. If there was a cheaper way to treat, certainly people with high performance horses (the greatest risk group) would have found it. I *strongly* advise against treating with something that your vet has not given you or prescribed. Ranitidine can affect the way that other drugs are processed by the body so if your horse is on anything else (or even if it isn't now but then needs to be be in the future while still on ranitidine) it could have a strong affect.
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post #10 of 17 Old 03-12-2011, 12:17 PM
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The best thing you can do for your horse, aside from meds - is ensuring that he has hay infront of him 24/7. If you can get him a round bale, all the better.

When we discovered Nelson had ulcers not only in his stomache, but also in his digestive tract, my Vet told me how important it is to make sure Nelson was out side 24/7, with a round bale infront of him.

We scoped him, so that we could know what exactly where the issues were, and after the scope we did a bout of GastroGuard. Once the GastroGuard was finished, we put him on SmartGut Pellets through SmartPak.

Here is an article that I feel will help you out:

Balancing Act - Designing A Diet For The Modern Horse

And yes, Teaalmutt and Poseidon are right, ulcers are very common in performance horses, especially TB's.

You need to talk to your vet about the steps you need to take to ensure your horses health.

I cannot add more, than what the article already states.

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