30 year old gelding with possible ulcer
We had the vet out this morning. Our 30 year old QH gelding didn't eat all of his food Tuesday, Wednesday and then today didn't touch much of it. That is NOT like him at all. My friend felt his stomach (I board him at her place) and he starting kicking out.
The vet came out and said it really sounds like ulcers. Temp, heart rate, breathing rate, color, etc. all seem good for his age. He thought he was in great condition for weight, etc. as well.
We can not figure out any stressors that might have caused this to come on. He has been with us since Feb. He has the same horses he is out with, the same diet (a mash 3 times a day of senior feed, alfalfa, and beet pulp), same free choice grass mix hay, etc.
The vet gave us banamine to give him today and tomorrow. He took some blood to run some blood tests and said to watch him and just keep him calm and comfortable.
He mentioned that if this is ulcers the treatment is about $1000/month and they might come back. Are there any other things that might help him? Honestly, at 30 years old, $1000 for a month of treatment is quite a bit. He is a WONDERFUL horse that trail rides several days a week with my special needs girls riding him. With winter coming though, we don't want him to suffer either.
Any hints, ideas, etc?
Any experience with the U-guard or whatever it is called from Corta-flx?
u-gard and gastro gard are omeprazole. I think u-gard has something else in it, though. You can try other stuff, but gastrogard is really what works...ask your vet for alternatives when the results come back - since he will know the extent of your horse's discomfort, he may be able to better suggest stuff.
Did the vet check his teeth?
If you haven't had this horse for too long, it is hard to say what happened in his past that may be showing up now.
My Arab had an ulcer 3 summers ago. I rescued him 15-1/2 years ago as a head attached to a skeleton. I had always had him on a pre/probiotic until we moved and I ran out.
Eight months later, in the heat/humidity of a Middle Tennessee summer that he wasn't used to, he developed an ulcer. I carried him to the vet and that's when I discovered that he'd lost a molar sometime earlier that summer, which may have been the initial cause for the ulcer and the high heat/humidity exacerbated it.
The vet put him on Omeprazole for ten days. At the end of the ten days, I had a daily pre/probiotic waiting for when he finished his ulcer medicine.
He's had two more molars removed since that episode but has been ulcer-free. I will never take him off pre/probiotics again. He is now 22-1/2:-)
I said all that to reiterate having his teeth checked for infection and once the ulcer is cleared up, there's a good chance a quality pre/probiotic may be all he needs.
The one I use costs around $16/LB. I have this Arab and my 21 yo metabolic horse on it. The one pound tub lasts around 5 weeks, I think.
I would be concerned about giving him banamine - this is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and gastric ulcers are a recognised potential side effect of them. (As well as stopping inflammatory prostaglandins being made, they also stop protective prostaglandins being made)
Treatment may be $1000/ month, but there's no saying he'll need it forever. This episode may be a one off, perhaps caused by a stressor that hasn't been picked up on, and may not happen again.
The feed you have him on sounds reasonable for managing ulcers, although I would consider dropping out the senior mix if possible. If you find he loses weight without it, then it could be gradually reintroduced when this episode is over.
Good luck getting this sorted out!
I'm so tired of getting flak for this this that I won't even go into it further, but my own vet saw it and was flabbergasted. The horse was better within 2 weeks and major improvements in a month. Try it... it's cheap and harmless -- what do you have to lose?
The equine dentis was just out 2 weeks ago and checked him out well. He only has a few usable teeth but what he has are in good condition.
The vet said that 2 days of Banamine might keep him more comfortable but wouldn't do much more harm than what is already there. This is just for 2 days.
I am thinking of looking at other options as given that he is 30 years old, $1000/month is very steep, esp. since there is a good chance we would have the same thing happen again.
There is also some published scientific data that shows aloe vera given to humans can assist with healing of ulcerative colitis. It's not too much of a leap to imagine it could also help in horses with gastric ulcers. I've put the reference to the paper at the end of this post in case you ever want to direct anyone to it!
There are some reported side effects of aloe vera, including diarrhoea, hepatitis, kidney dysfunction, electrolyte imbalance and reduced CNS activity. I couldn't tell you (I doubt anyone could with any certainty) at what dose these side effects will occur, but it's something worth keeping an eye on. How much do you give and how often northernmama?
Langmead L, Feakins RM, Goldthorpe S, et al (April 2004). "Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis". Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics 19 (7): 739–47.
U-gard is not omeprazole, I think you are thinking of ulcergard which is the preventative concentration of omeprazole. U-gard is simply an antacid--a calcium supplement. U-gard and help decrease symptoms around feeding time, but won't cure ulcers.
As for stressors or this old guy---they've actually found that many horses with no known predisposing factors have ulcer. But at 30 years old he is likely not actually eating much of his hay and thus going for stretches of time between feeding with his stomach empty which can lead to the formation of ulcers.
Since you are already feeding 3 times a day, if you are worried about the cost of Gastroguard to treat the ulcers, talk to your vet about going with one of the treatment options that is less expensive but requires much more frequent dosing---ranitidine and cimetidine will treat ulcers if dosed every 4-6 hours.
I had a guy about 900 lbs and gave him about 2 oz of juice (1 dollar-store-spice-bottle full) and probably about 3 tsp of slippery elm both twice a day. (I used the scoop from my electrolytes, so I'm guessing)
Thanks for the article reference. Nice to hear some support for this.
Also, any grain is hard on ulcers -- so, Ottakee, find out the ingredients in any supplements you are feeding. Many of them sound like they don't have any grains in them, but they do. I feed only hay and beet pulp with oil when I was helping my guy. I did have him on a 12% pelleted feed until I found out that oats was included in the ingredient list.
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