Depending on how long it has been going on I would scope.
I've had two horses I've suspected of ulcers....the first one we did treat with gastro guard a couple of times but the symptoms keep coming back and I had other issues as well.......so I finally scoped and no ulcers he was as clean as a whistle......so this sent us in a different direction which was exteremely helpful....as we were able to go in a different direction which helped us get a diganosis.
The second horse was on and off her hay ever so slightly till one night she had a small bout of colic which was resolved with banamine......I made arrangements to scope her when the specialist came over in two weeks........it ended up being 6 weeks due to snow......while she did not actually have ulcers she did had hyperkeratosis....which could have been ulcers healling or just simply an irritation of her stomach....we put her on Gastroguard and she has been fine since.....we beleive it was the bute given to her for a tooth issue that causeed the intitial problem.......she had ulcers as a foal while her mom was on bute due to complications.
So my rule of thumb is if I suspect ulcers.....I ususally scope after a reasonable amount of time has passed and nothing else has resolved the problem.
I want to put out there that it is a MYTH that ulcers will "only" heal with GG/UG. Ulcers always heal! The problem with chronic ulcer conditions is getting ahead of the constant cycle of new ones forming. Way back in the Dark Ages before there was omeprazole, ulcers DID heal.
Now whether the billion-and-a-half different "ulcer supplements" work is another story. I do think it has gotten to be absolutely STANDARD THINKING to find a "supplement" for every conceivable health concern, both for people and horses. And probably dogs and cats, too, but I don't shop for them so I don't know. IMO this is more a marketing phenomenon than a large advance in health care. We just have been conditioned to think that everyone needs a supplement.
Not denying that some may be helpful. Just wondering out loud about the way we think. Check out this forum--on average one in every six or eight posts is about "which supplement?" a lot of the time.
Fight back! Resist! Get a proper diagnosis, treat appropriately, and do what you can to prevent recurrence! Smart Paks and trendy supplements are NOT mandatory for every living thing.
I have an ulcer horse and I have stayed away from the gimicky "magical stomach herbs" type supplements. I've tried to stick with tried and true methods for reducing or buffering acid - calcium, magnesium, and omeprazole. I am not going to pay for marshmallow root powder when it has no studies to back it up. I believe certain herbals like aloe vera, papya and even slippery elm (in gel form) have been shown effective in some studies. I've tried the pure papya puree and didn't see any difference in the horse good or bad. It was a PITA to deal with (had to be refrigerated) so I haven't bought any more. Well, I shouldn't say that. I might use it to buffer electrolytes if I run out of Pro-CMC or something, but that would be about it.
And FWIW - more turnout, grazing, and hay did NOT help or improve my horse at ALL. Just made her exponentially worse as a matter of fact. She does MUCH better if she's stalled at least 1/2 the day with alfalfa hay. She does not like the "go live on the range like a wild mustang" protocol at ALL. She loves the comfort and security of her own stall, her own space, her own shavings to sleep in. Too hot, too cold, too many bugs, too much sun, too much wind.....they all stress her out and make her miserable. She wants the barn, and her stall, period.
I'm in the same turnout boat as Auventura in some ways.
I put my other one out 24x7, 365, rain, sleet, snow, hail, tornado. This mare, however, is a cribber. I keep a strap on her in her stall, but not in the pasture. I am convinced she will hang herself out there. So... outside she cribs instead of eating. That empties her stomach. Vicious cycle.
I just called Hagyard. To do a full workup on this horse with scope, nutritional analysis, and musc/skel workup to eliminate any other ouchies would be cheaper than 9 delivered tubes of Ulcergard.
\"Let the civilized world go to the devil! Long live nature, forests, and ancient poetry.\" --Theodore Rousseau
Complete and total diet change. After we discovered what foods he was sensitive to. He gets no grass hay, no hard grains. Lives on alfalfa and beet pulp, flax, a vitamin/mineral supplement to fill in the gaps of a high alfalfa diet and U-guard. So far it is working and he eats like the proverbial horse.
Some horses don't like being outside for extended periods of time. Some thrive on 7/24 turnout. My horse is in a training/show barn. He goes out for a few hours, the rest of the time he is entertained by the goings on at the barn. He is three stalls away from the groom stalls and tack room, he enjoys the "busy". Keeps his pea brain occupied, we have gates on our stalls so they can stick their heads out, there are also full doors that can be shut when they need to be. Especially if one is feeling like bugging their neighbor, or is having a bad hair day and the horses walking past are irritating them.
Where am I and what am I doing in this handbasket?
y'all are too literal in this crappy weather. More t/o, grazing or hay does not equal nothing but 24/7 t/o. I don't think anyone's arguing that more steady, slow eating of a nice fiber type food (grass or hay) is going to make an ulcer worse, but to DW's point, I see a lot of horses standing in a stall with owners "too afraid" to put them out because pookums might hurt himself (and to be fair, after so many days/weeks/months in a stall, it's possible he might, but you have to ask yourself how you got in that place to begin with), and on the other hand they invest in all sorts of calming and ulcer aids. I'm not saying the answer is exclusively t/o, but yes, it's a big part of the cure: dx & trx through appropriate meds, diet and environment, a lot of which is going to involve that funny fiber stuff being ingested at regular intervals and something that involves more than very limited turnout.
Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.
while I fully am on board with a 24/7 outdoor lifestyle whenever possible, I do have to throw this into the mix.....
my younger gelding, who was an utter fruitcake when I got him, and responded favorably to being treated for ulcers (never had him scoped), came to me from having previously lived outside roaming freely on +/- hundred acres, grazing only, no grain ever, hay in winter, and hadn't been ridden or hardly handled in close to two years. Zero 'stress' in terms of work or travel, but he was a high strung little beast anyhow.
It took a heck of a leap of faith for me to even consider him possibly having an ulcer issue because he had zero typical contributing lifestyle factors. But, he responded and was a changed horse.
sorry, this is off track though. to the point, yeah I get the feeling ulcer sups are the new thing. I wish I was more educated to be able to pick through it all.
Here is my protecol........for girthy,kicky,grouchy,tail swishing horse...that normally isn't that way.
2 wks of 1 full dose of ulcergard or gastrogard per day-( UG and GG are the same thing just marked differently so the vets can sell you one for more...sorry but true)
2 wks 1/2 tube UG or GG /daily
There after Smart Pack has a supplement called ALLAY-1 dose (2 containers) per day.(basically antacid)
Increase turnout and if turnout has no grass increase hay.Grass if possible.
Give 1 tube UG or GG befor trailering or showing (stress ya know)
I think there are some good ulcer supplemets out there, with ingredients that have been at least somewhat tested and found to "promote" healing and "discourage" new ulcers from forming. However there are also supplements out there that haven't been proven to work with ingredients that haven't been tested. They could work, but with those supplements it's really just a crapshoot.
I admit I'm a supplement junkie. Omega horseshine, mega cell, and smartdigest are on both my horses supplement lists. Then my eventer gets smartflex senior herb-free, and my ottb gets msm at a dose of 10 g a day.
I agree that you don't need ulcerguard/gastroguard/whatever ulcer supplement you choose to HEAL ulcers. Especially the ulcer/gastroguard. IMO changing the diet is the most important thing.
Free choice grass hay, alfalfa cubes, minimal grain, beet pulp....my "ulcery" horse got this along with smartgut and tractgard (smartgut and tractgard given for a month) and is currently thriving. He still gets probiotics (smartdigest) but otherwise that's it as far as stomach supplemets go.
My horse is in a training/show barn. He goes out for a few hours, the rest of the time he is entertained by the goings on at the barn. He is three stalls away from the groom stalls and tack room, he enjoys the "busy". Keeps his pea brain occupied, we have gates on our stalls so they can stick their heads out, there are also full doors that can be shut when they need to be. Especially if one is feeling like bugging their neighbor, or is having a bad hair day and the horses walking past are irritating them.
You know, since my mare was a filly I have always said "This horse would THRIVE in a show barn." Daily grooming, pampering, small grain meals 3x a day, somebody picking her stall out 2x a day, grooms and stable help going by her stall all through the day. This horse LOVES to be in her stall and hang her head out in the aisleway and beg people for treats or get her head scratched as people walk by. She wants to dunk her hay in her water and rub her nose up and down the support beam. She wants to roll in her shavings every time the urge hits her and she wants a human to cater to her every need all day long. She has almost no connection to her herd. She would love to go outside for maybe 4 hours a day and then be back in the rest of the time. I always beat myself up for making this horse live in my "trail riding barn" instead of finding some high end posh place to board her at. But I just can't bring myself to turn her care over to somebody else. Not to mention the time constraints of working 2 jobs, having my own farm with boarders, then going somewhere to a boarding barn to see this horse? That would turn into a big mess.