Charcoal as ulcer prevention? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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Charcoal as ulcer prevention?

Harley was treated for ulcers twice since we've had him (5 yrs). He does not live a stressful life, has access to forage 24/7 in slow feeder nets or pasture, and beet pulp + hay cubes as well as a balanced range of minerals customized for him after hay analysis. However, my daughter's new riding coach noticed he swishes his tail when she does up the girth so she suggested we put him on an ulcer-prevention med. She recommended Comfort Gut, which is essentially charcoal. Thoughts? I know that the theory is that toxins bind to it, but he shouldn't have a lot of toxins in his diet anyway. I just struggle with the idea of feeding my horse charcoal I guess. And it isn't cheap at 80$ a month (over and above the hundreds of $$$ I spend on supps, etc.).
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post #2 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 08:46 AM
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I'm wary - Charcoal seems to be a trend lately. I'm not seeing any science-backed connections between charcoal & stomach issue prevention, even in humans, just articles from fitness magazines and blogs.

I bet there is a better product out there.
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post #3 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ClearDonkey View Post
Following...

I'm wary - Charcoal seems to be a trend lately. I'm not seeing any science-backed connections between charcoal & stomach issue prevention, even in humans, just articles from fitness magazines and blogs.

I bet there is a better product out there.
I feel the same way. I honestly don't think he has ulcers, nor is he living a lifestyle that would put him at high risk to get ulcers. We treated him when we first got him because he had all the symptoms. Also, his previous owners dewormed him monthly. I believe that destroyed his gut flora and may have caused ulcers. So while I'm all for ulcer prevention, I'm not convinced it's a good idea to feed charcoal regularly. Maybe as part of a detox or something, but every day?
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post #4 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 11:50 AM
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I don't know anything about it either, nor have I seen any studies about it. Like ClearDonkey, I am also wary of it as an ulcer preventative.
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post #5 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 12:08 PM
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I see zero reason why charcoal would effect acid production or act as a buffer. If you want a feed through ulcer prevention supplement, use Purina Outlast.

What did you treat him with when you previously treated for ulcers and how did he respond to it?

If all he's doing is swishing at the girth, it could be many other things. Maybe the girth material or a learned reaction to previous discomfort.

(Tho this is also the horse with chronic diarrhea, right? Hind gut ulcers?)
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post #6 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ApuetsoT View Post
I see zero reason why charcoal would effect acid production or act as a buffer. If you want a feed through ulcer prevention supplement, use Purina Outlast.

What did you treat him with when you previously treated for ulcers and how did he respond to it?

If all he's doing is swishing at the girth, it could be many other things. Maybe the girth material or a learned reaction to previous discomfort.

(Tho this is also the horse with chronic diarrhea, right? Hind gut ulcers?)
Same horse, yes. His chronic diarrhea was finally resolved with Metronidazole, an antibiotic that treats intestinal parasites. So not necessarily related to ulcers, hind gut or otherwise.

He was previously treated with Omeprazole and Sucralfate. Did not see a major difference in behavior or health before and after. He has always swished his tail a bit when being girthed. He also used to get nippy, but doesn't anymore. We addressed that behavior though, and taught him that nipping was not acceptable at any time. So hard to say whether he ever had ulcers, or whether they got better. He is also pretty stoic so hard to say what's going on with him. He's not a fan of working (who is?), but gets right down to business when under saddle. He's the type of horse that always has something going on though. First we dealt with severe coughing when we first brought him home (vet said incurable heaves). That's completely gone now - he hasn't coughed in years. But for the last couple of years, he's had scratches that won't go away. 3 vets have looked at them, prescribed stuff, to no avail. And yes, I have had him tested for IR and Cushings. Twice. He's fine. Vet even did bloodwork and everything looks great. All organs functioning normally. He's a bit of a mystery. The scratches might have something to do with the alsike clover he got into last summer though. I took him off that pasture immediately (his nose blistered and that's when the scratches started) and we plowed it under and re-planted with straight timothy.

Had a look at Purina Outlast. It contains alfalfa and molasses. So that's a no from us. If I could get it without the molasses, I would try it, but I won't give him anything with sugar because of his age and breed (Arab) which puts him as a high risk for IR.
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post #7 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Photo of him after a ride (thus the sweaty girth marks). I think his weight is just right, but he went from being an easy keeper to needing a little extra. His teeth are a little worn so he's not doing as good a job at chewing hay as he used to. I've increased his beet pulp and have him on Elite Three Evolve - essentially hemp husks - with good results. He also gets Camelina oil. He's turned out 24/7 on timothy pasture and ridden about 6 days a week for an hour mostly doing dressage.
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post #8 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post

Had a look at Purina Outlast. It contains alfalfa and molasses. So that's a no from us. If I could get it without the molasses, I would try it, but I won't give him anything with sugar because of his age and breed (Arab) which puts him as a high risk for IR.


I believe there is a feed through Purina, the Ultium feed, but with Gastric Care.
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post #9 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ClearDonkey View Post
I believe there is a feed through Purina, the Ultium feed, but with Gastric Care.
Yep, but it also contains molasses. Not to mention a pile of other things, some of which he's already getting from his custom supp mix.

There's no shortage of products out there that promise to prevent ulcers. I'm not even sure we need one, honestly.
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post #10 of 21 Old 08-07-2020, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
Yep, but it also contains molasses. Not to mention a pile of other things, some of which he's already getting from his custom supp mix.

There's no shortage of products out there that promise to prevent ulcers. I'm not even sure we need one, honestly.
Personally I think what you're feeding doing is much better and healthier for your horses.

Both products have molasses and Purina ultium gastric care isn't something I'd feed. I wouldn't feed other product either. My horses are so much healthier being off bagged feed. A year ago I'd of not believed ,there was a better way to feed horses. Grain free molasses free an iron free is best.

How can a product with molasses help prevent ulcers??? Not buying it not for a minute.

Harley looks fabulous for his age,so what you're doing is obviously working. Highly doubt he has ulcers.
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Last edited by rambo99; 08-07-2020 at 01:20 PM.
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