Hi everyone..... I have a new problem with my horse. A few weeks ago I went to the barn to feed and found my horse in his stall kicking at the wall. I opened the door to find him with his head almost touching the floor and clearly in pain. I called the vet immediately. To make a long story short, he has an ulcer. He was collicking because of it. My vet took a fecal sample and called and said that he DID have blood in his GI tract meaning that he has an ulcer. Since then I've done much research on them only to find that the only way to GET RID OF IT is by giving him Gastrogard which is extremely expensive. Who knows what brought it on. He is worked usually 4 days a week and really nothing too strenuous.
Is or has anyone ever dealt with an ulcer before? I've read that if I just give him time off, that usually the ulcer will just heal inself.
Just wondering if anyone else is going through the same thing.
Thanks for any comments
I read on another thread to give Pepto (the pink stuff) to a horse with ulcers. Not sure if thats proper and it may be more expensive in the long run than the Gastrogard.
In other words, if ya get right-down to the bottom line, ulcers most-always result from the combination of a diet deffiency, coupled with a bacterial infection. That will hold true, be it a person, a cow or a horse. After all, the Good Lord made us all from the dirt and as a result, we all need certain minerals in our diet so's our systems can stay rebuilt and working properly. You may also note that while all mammals(and us) can store most vitamins, none of us have the ability to store un-used minerals...... So's, if we are to stay healthy, we got's to replenish them minerals on a daily basis.
Having said all that.....yeah, the "pink stuff" certainly helps because it contains the same mineral that has been lacking in the diet. Be aware though, that Pepto Bismol can/will cause constipation if too much is given and that aint a good thing neither. It may also have other side-effects to a horse that I'm not aware of.
You may find it interesting that many years ago, we'd give "calf-scouer(skow-wer) pellets" to cows that had what was known at the time as, "the scoures".
Well, it turns out that "the scouers" was/is nothing more than common ulcers. And them pellets were nothing more than a feed-pellet which contained an antibiotic that was combined with the same mineral-compound which is found in Peptobismol.
But that was many years ago and back then, most folks did most of their own doctoring.....and most feed stores would sell you whatever you needed to do it. That is no longer the case and besides.......I'm thinking that these days, there's better methods of treatment.
That's about as far as my knowlage of the subject goes.
I have no idea how much Peptobismol would be proper to give a horse. Nor do I known just what kind, or how much, antibiotic will be required to treat the horse in question. And besides that, horses and cows(and people) have much different digestive systems. So whatever cure it is that works on one, may not work so well on the other.
Twere it me, I'd follow my Vet's advice.
Bleeding ulcers aint nothing to fool-around with.
Hope this helps somewhat.
First, ulcers in horses are NOT treated with antibiotics and it's not a lack of bismuth in the diet that allows them to form. Gastric ulcers in horses are not linked to bacteria, which is one of the causes of ulcers in humans and the only reason that antibiotics would be used to treat ulcers.
Ulcers in horses develop because there are two types of lining in the stomach and one of those is more sensitive to the gastric acid. During stressful situations --for example work over a walk, trailering, etc--this more sensitve portion of the stomach lining gets exposed to gastric acid and ulcers can develop. Also common management practices end in horses that go for hours a day without having anything to eat and in an animal who's designed to graze for 14 hours a day this means that there is lots of time when the stomach is empty yet there is significant gastric acid production so the acidity in the stomach increases and the stomach lining takes a beating. For these reasons, gastric ulcers are actually really common in horses.
This excess of gastric acid and the management of the horse that has to be addressed to treat ulcers. While pasture turnout or free access to hay is a part of the new management strategy for a horse with ulcers, it will not cure the ulcers. It will at least cut down on the symptoms. Another management change is the drastic reduction or removal of grain-based supplemental feeds. And to decrease the acid production, which is the key to actually allowing ulcers to heal, there are a couple of treatment options. Gastrogard is definitely the simplest and most effective as a single dose decreases acid production for 24 hours. But you can also use ranitidine or cimetidine for the same 28 day period but you have to treat every 4-6 hours (depends on which drug you choose) in order to be truly effective otherwise in the time between when the last dose stops working and you give the next dose there will be a spike in acid production and that will reinjure the ulcerated area.
You need to talk to your vet about the other options besides Gastrogard if you can't afford that product. (I know, it's a MAJOR expense.) But you really need to treat the problem appropriately with one of the 3 drugs I've listed and make the management changes in order to prevent further colic episodes in your horse and to eliminate the pain he experiences every time you feed him.
http://www.tufts.edu/vet/sports/ulceration.html (click the link on the bottom of this page for more information)
Hello Cindy D.
First off, let me thank you for your input. It's always good to hear from a real Vet when medical concerns are the subject.
I would however, like for you to clear-up a couple of questions I have, concerning your post.
I'm a bit confused as to how/why trailering, working or moving faster than a walk can/will cause ulcers to form in some horses but (clearly)not in most horses.. Is it because that particular horse might also be being fed improperly also..... or maybe it's due to it having some sort of weakness in the stomach lining? A genetic flaw...Or what?
I do understand the hows/whys about modifying the diet for a sick horse.
I understand the need for lowering stomach acid while treating ulcers. It makes perfect sense that we should eleminate hard-to-digest foods AND remove much of the acid, so's it don't act as an iritant. And being's how you say that stress can bring ulcers on, I can understand the need to eleminate stress.
What I don't understand is.... After we do those things, and if the drugs which you named do not contain any antibiotics, vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other forms of nurishment and/or drugs...just what is it that actualy does the healing, if not the bodies natural ability to rebuild itself? And if that is indeed the case, just what does the body use as building blocks for carrying-out the healing/rebuilding process on stomach lining?..... And where do them building-blocks come from, if not from the horse's diet?
After all, we give race-horses dried/ground cartlidge so's they can build their own cartlidge to repair weak joints. We give horses, cows(and our children) calcium to build good teeth and bone-structure. It's perty-common knowlage that a bit of selinium added as a suppliment in horse/mule feed helps to prevent weak blood vessels. There's many more examples I could give but I'm sure that by now you're getting my point..... which by the way, aint an argument. It is simply my way of trying to clarify my question of just what exactly is the horse using to affect the cure of ulcers in a situation which, aside from a very expensive antacid, it is given no other medication, no surgical repair, and if I read your post right, no further medical assistance?
My thought is that he is using something found in his diet to affect the repair. You say that it aint bizmuth..... well OK, fair enough. But if not, just what is it?
I'm not trying to be arguementative here.... I'm just trying to understand what I'm reading.
Thanks again for your input.
Actually a lot more horses than people realize probably have gastric ulcers. They are extremely common--around 80% of foals, more than 90% of racehorses and more than 60% of western performance horses have been shown to have ulcers in studies.
And even around 50% of low-level show horses (shown a few times a year) and pleasure horses have ulcers. It's just that the symptoms are often not really noticeable or seen for what they are.
As to why working at more than a walk produces ulcers, during work the acids in the lower part of the stomach (which is the area that is designed to handle them) get pushed up into the upper part of the stomach where the lining is more "tender" (not designed to deal with lots of stomach acid) and cause ulceration. Add to this that horses in work are not grazing, which means that the stomach acid that is produced pretty constantly in the horse is not being buffered by food which acts as a natural "antacid" and keeps the acidity in the stomach lower.
The drugs I listed as actually treating ulcers serve to lower acid production in the stomach and it's that constant acidity that prevents the body from healing. And once you have the acid levels in the stomach under control the horses body can heal these areas given time--thus the 28 day course of treatment. The building blocks do indeed come from the diet, but it doesn't require any special additives, nutrient wise, for the body to be able to heal that area. After all, the body is designed to be constantly replacing old cells that get damaged or worn out. So long as the diet is balanced, your horse has what it needs to heal, fight infection, etc.
HI Ryle... Thank you so much for taking your time to write about this subject. Your input has been very helpful to me and my husband. We have just ordered the GastroGard through Allivet as they seem to be the least expensive incase anyone else is looking for the same product. My horse is boarded at a stable that I work at giving lessons and training so I'm going to talk to the stable owner and change his feeding program to being fed three times a day instead of twice a day. It's funny because I look back at all the changes ( ie: moving him to a different spot at the stables where he wasn't on pasture, and how much his attitude change during that time and so on, and it all makes sense now. I moved him up into the training barn so that he would be closer to the arena... the problem was that he was only getting turned out every other day to graze. I didn't know that would be a problem for him. I have since moved him back down where he is on pasture 24/7 and he does seem much happier. It's very interesting how such a big animal can be so sensitive. We also own another horse was diagnosed with heaves that we have been dealing with for 2 years now and his environment is extremely important in keeping him cough-free.
Thank you again for your time on this subject.
I totally missed your question about bismuth--had guys arriving to deliver hay.
Anyway, you comment about bismuth subsalicylate in pepto and state that the use of pepto "replenishes" this missing mineral but it's actually that the bismuth subsalicylate in pepto is a mild antacid. So what pepto offers is a very temporary relief of pain from stomach acidity--probably why giving it to cattle with scours helped. Bismuth is not a required dietary mineral of horses.
Omeprazole is not an antacid but rather an acid pump inhibitor which rather than neutralizing acid actually slows the production of acid for 24 hours. The other two drugs, cimetidine and ranitidine, are antacids which only serve to neutralize acid for a limited time, especially when acid is being added almost continually in the equine stomach and that is why they require such frequent dosing to be effective. They are, however, much more effective antacids than bismuth.
You are very welcome. My goal in posting on forums like this is to help ensure that owners have correct information and can ask questions which often they don't think of while standing with their vet and looking at their horse.
It is indeed interesting how sensitive the GI tract of such a large animal is but then the way they are often expected to live is very different from what their bodies are designed for.
I hope he does well with the Gastrogard. And once you have treated him, be sure to stick with the high forage, low grain diet. And if you put him in stressful situations it's often recommended to give Ulcergard (a lower dose of omeprazole) during the stress and for a day or two after to help reduce the risk of recurrence.
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