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Ulcers: treating vs. curing.

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  • Ulcers: treating vs. curing.

    I got an OTTB last Feb, he is now 5. Some classic symptoms he exhibited:

    - Underweight when I got him. He had difficulty putting weight on for the first four months I had him when he was on stall board/grain/maybe out for 6hrs a day but the grass selection was not fantastic. Since being on pasture board as of August (at a different barn with much better pasture space) he put on a significant amount of weight and muscle.

    - Poor coat/skin. He has been on Omegafields HorseShine for approx 6 months & skin & coat have improved significantly, but I thought I might as well mention that. His hair fell out in huge patches in the early Spring and two vets couldn't figure out why. No fungus, ringworm, etc. Figured it may have been seasonal alopecia.

    - Pissy about side contact. He is even bodysore to groom, but he is also a thin-skinned chestnut TB. Grooming his belly he is not happy, lifts his back legs up at his tummy, bites at his tummy, etc. The rest of his body he's fine to groom. While riding he is especially sensitive to any leg pressure and will throw a tantrum if he finds it to be excessive. His tantrums = head tossing, backing, rearing, kicked at stomach. He just had a brand new saddle fit specifically to him and has been in that for a month and is consistently treated by a chiropractor and all back pain and other issues (legs, teeth, etc) have been ruled out.

    - I've never seen him kick out, only up and at his stomach. He does this while standing and while riding.

    - Although he's been in consistent work since February, I feel that his stamina is not where it should be for the work we've been putting in. IDK if maybe he is just an excessive sweater? No experience with that.

    All this coupled with the fact that he's an OTTB, and was sold due to starting gate issues (= stress = ulcers), I just have a gut feeling that he has ulcers. I don't want to scope him because I don't want to stress him even further with that, I don't really have the extra money to do it, and if I do decide to fully treat him for ulcers, it's not going to hurt him if I don't have him scoped first.

    I started him (only 3 days ago) on SmartGut pellets and have decided to see if I notice any difference in the symptoms while he's on this. If I see a huge difference, but can't come up with the cash for GastroGard, can the ulcers get worse even though his symptoms are better? I know that anything besides Omeprazole isn't going to cure the ulcers if he does have them, but would I be risking them getting worse by not treating him, and instead keeping him on SmartGut?

    If I had $1k laying around I would just fully treat him for ulcers and be done with it, but life isn't always so simple and money doesn't grow on trees. If I really had to, I could pay for full GastroGard treatment but it would not be easy.

    What are your opinions on this? What would you do in this situation? Recommendations? Am I an idiot? LOL, all input welcome!

    Overall I feel he has improved a HUGE amount, but he is such a reasonable and even tempered horse normally that I have a hard time believing these behavioral symptoms are just him being pissy. I've gotten my vet and trainer's opinions, but it can't hurt to gather a few more.

    Thanks Amy

  • #2
    I have an OTTB and was in a similar position. I spent a year trying everything but Gastrogard. He would show signs of improving, but they always came back. My horse was pretty severe (as was later proven when I had him scoped).

    It's hard to say if he will get worse. I don't think mine got worse, but he certainly didn't get any better and I basically wasted my money on the treatments and supplements I tried. But of course, every horse is different and I know people that swear products such as Smart Gut have cured there horse.

    I finally did the Gastrogard. It was expensive - I think I did 2 or 3 weeks of a full tube and 2 weeks of 1/2 a tube. I got lucky and was able to, through a research project at my vet's office, get two free scopes. The Gastrogard actually cured them and three years later he is showing no reoccuring symptoms of ulcers. I made some diet and lifestyle adjustments, putting him on pasture 24/7 with free choice hay, he gets U-Gard and combined, I believe that has kept them away.

    So unfortunately, I would recommend saving up the $1k and just doing it. I wish I had done it sooner as it would have been one less year my horse was in pretty major discomfort. It was worth it to us because they were cured and my horse is happy again.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would think that yes what you are doing is helping, but the ulcerguard/GG will heal them. When I was low on cash, I did my UG treatment 1/2 tube a day for 2 months (as opposed to the full tube a day for one month) per vet's okay and even though it took twice as long to heal, it save a little money at a time. I know some folks swear by aloe juice as a healing agent, but my mare did not like extra additives in her feed so that was not an option to try. Good luck as ulcers are a frustrating thing.

      Comment


      • #4
        I had fantastic anecdotal success with Miracle Clay from Dynamite.

        My horse was an irritable spaz. I treated him for 10 weeks with the clay (which, much to my astonishment he ate readily) and at the end of the period he was a completely different horse and has not regressed. So based on that, I assume he had ulcers and I assume the MC did something.

        The clay was a fraction of the cost of what UG would have been.

        I need to share this though: several months later after the course of clay, my horse began suffering from thumps. I can only assume the MC is somehow involved because its a calcium based product, and thumps has its roots in calcium imbalance. Several months later my horse stabilized all on his own and the thumps are ancient history.

        I have to add too, I put my other horse (retired mustang) on the MC too at the same time. He suffered no symptoms going in, and showed no improvement after the course of treatment. He never suffered from thumps, but as a retired pasture-sound horse, I didn't ask him to work at all either.
        Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

        Comment


        • #5
          Merial has done a great job of advertising and using the words treat vs cure. Gastroguard does NOT "cure" ulcers. It does not fill in the damage. protect it, and grow new mucosa (that would be curing ulcers). Gastroguard has the ability to increase the pH of the acid in the stomach (if it properly gets to the small intestine to be absorbed before the acid in the stomach destroys it... which merial claims to have a special buffering that allows the drug to pass through the stomach, but we don't know if it is as effective as enteric coated pills such as all omeprozole drugs used in humans. And when you ask merial what the buffer is, they can't tell you)

          I personally had a horse on gastroguard for 8 weeks who pre and post treatment scopes showed no change. When we added a acid buffer before each dosing (we used neighlox) to increase the pH in hope the medication would not be destroyed in the stomach, the 3rd scope 4 weeks later showed the stomach had completely healed. In conclusion it is possible the horse had too low of pH for the drug to even survive to be absorbed because it was not an enteric coated medication. It uses a mysterious buffer that merial promises is in there

          Horse later had another case of ulcers confirmed by scope. We treated with 3x day ranitidine and one dose of neighlox before exercise and the horse scoped clear of ulcers in 6 weeks with no change in showing and training. So gastroguard is not the one and only option that can possibly heal ulcers.

          There are even some studies out there showing that horses rested on grass pastured heal at the same rate or faster in some cases than horses on gastroguard. If you search pubmed they will come up.

          And just so I am clear, I like gastroguard and think it was a great advancement in ulcer treatment in horses especially where diet and training cannot be modified, but there are a lot of misconception about what gastrogaurd actually does which is slightly raise the pH in the stomach.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by buck22 View Post
            I had fantastic anecdotal success with Miracle Clay from Dynamite.

            My horse was an irritable spaz. I treated him for 10 weeks with the clay (which, much to my astonishment he ate readily) and at the end of the period he was a completely different horse and has not regressed. So based on that, I assume he had ulcers and I assume the MC did something.

            The clay was a fraction of the cost of what UG would have been.

            I need to share this though: several months later after the course of clay, my horse began suffering from thumps. I can only assume the MC is somehow involved because its a calcium based product, and thumps has its roots in calcium imbalance. Several months later my horse stabilized all on his own and the thumps are ancient history.

            I have to add too, I put my other horse (retired mustang) on the MC too at the same time. He suffered no symptoms going in, and showed no improvement after the course of treatment. He never suffered from thumps, but as a retired pasture-sound horse, I didn't ask him to work at all either.
            Just wondering, did you confirm the diagnosis of thumps through electrolyte testing? Thumps is a potentially life threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary intervention. Otherwise it is possible the horse had some type of vagus nerve stimulation causing the diaphragmatic flutter. I personally have seen both. One was a severely low potassium (hypokalemia) that also presented with a heart arrythmia and required immediate treatment. And the other was caused by a chiropractic adjustment that caused unknown vagus nerve stimulation. The second resolved on its own over time and was not "thumps" although it presented similarly.

            Comment


            • #7
              I did not. My horse never had the thumping sound associated with thumps, just what appeared to be exercise intolerance. I quickly had my vet out thinking perhaps it was an early warning sign of cushings actually, and that is when she diagnosed thumps. She made me fully aware of how life threatening and serious it is.

              Interesting about the vagus nerve stimulation..... food for thought especially in my horse's case. Thank you for sharing that!
              Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

              Comment


              • #8
                I haven't read the whole thread, but you mentioned that if you had 1k laying around you would just treat him. I just wanted to let you know that they do make good generic compounded omeprazole now, and I just treated a horse for a month for $350 bucks with the generic from my vet.

                Comment


                • #9
                  My mare moved from a decent situation (pasture board with a friend) to a less-desirable place (dry lot with no turnout) and almost immediately became completely unmanageable. I suspected ulcers and put her on gastroshield. Within three days, the craziness completely disappeared.

                  Like the OP, I don't have a grand lying around to throw at treatment and I never had her scoped.

                  The biggest switch came when I moved her out to a place with a big, lovely grass pasture.
                  _________________________

                  http://iamthesprinklerbandit.blogspot.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Flying Hearts View Post
                    I haven't read the whole thread, but you mentioned that if you had 1k laying around you would just treat him. I just wanted to let you know that they do make good generic compounded omeprazole now, and I just treated a horse for a month for $350 bucks with the generic from my vet.
                    There is no generic Gastroguard. There IS generic omeprazole, but it is not the same formula and there is no guarantee it will work the same as or as well as Gastroguard.

                    Comment

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