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Inexpensive Ulcer help

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  • Inexpensive Ulcer help

    This is NOT my horse, but a boarder/student. The horse has a history of ulcers, last time he had an issue his owner who had just purchased him treated him with 7 days of generic gastroguard. I never noticed a whole lot of difference in him post treatment. He was still the same crabby, cribbing, slightly sore backed horse. Owner did not want to spend $$ on scopeing him or really getting the vet to check him out well. Just got the GG from a vet at the track after speaking w him.
    She did put him on tractguard after this which is a mild antacid.
    I have been trying to convince her to get him checked out the past couple months as his symptoms are getting worse. A couple very mild bouts of colic. More cribbing, more weaving in his stall, more nastiness when being groomed. Kicking out when rider applies leg. Bucking occasionally. I noticed more back soreness when she was grooming him. Kept telling her he needed checked out, and getting "No he is fine! I have him on that medicine" meaning the tractguard. I explained that that is like taking tums, not really a treatment. Well she finally decided something is up when she came to ride him the other day and he kicked at her any time she touched his belly and she noticed his poop was not the same consistency. It used to be balls and now it is cow pies.
    She is talking to the vet again about the generic GG.
    My question is how long does a horse normally get treated w the GG? and what do you usually follow up with? I know most would have the vet scope/check the horse first but this girl is NOT going to do that. Right now he is on the tract guard and she put him on aloe 1 cup 2x a day on the recommendation of a clinician who stated that he might have ulcers after discussing some of his issues.
    Now I have noticed something else. I pulled him out for the farrier a couple days ago and gently put my fingers on his back and his knees buckled and he ducked down from pain. This was right behind his withers and he is sore all the way back to his tail. He was standing very awkwardly when the farrier did his back feet. Like hunching his back down and flatening his croup. Other than lessons I do not handle/spend much time with this horse so had not noticed this before. I have questioned owner about his back and asked about sensitivity before when we have had issues with training and she said he wsa a little tender when brushing but otherwise fine. I did have her pull the saddle off one day and ran my hands along his spineto test for tenderness and got a very mild reaction. Had her switch pads as her saddle was sitting very close to his back and probably hitting his spine occasionally if not all the time she was in the saddle. He seemed to improve a little after this. Looking back I should have checked him out more/sooner. Though all along I have recommended having him vetted/chiro/saddle fitter. I can point out big issues but I am not a trained vet or saddle fitter and let my students know this.
    So now that I have pointed out this Major back pain the owner still does not want to have him vetted and we decided to give horse a month off. (except that I caught her riding him bareback yesterday)
    I was wondering if there was something we could give him for his back without agrivating the tummy. I know bute is out. What about herbal bute or MSM or something. Prefferably something over the counter as it doesnt look like she will go to the vet. If this were my horse I would certainly be at least consulting with my vet. And since we use the same vet I think I might just give her a call and ask about this horse. It sucks that the horse is not mine though and the owner will not consult the vet herself. Part of this is due to lack of money, and part sheer stubborness. Grrrrr!

  • #2
    I would rush my horse to the vet and eat ramen noodles for the next 6months if need be if my horse had one tenth of those problems.

    My guy has ulcers, obviously not to the extent this horse does, but what seemed to do a lot of good was tract guard, 24/7 turn out, free choice hay at all times and switching to a better quality/senior feed. Not much expense in any of that.

    This guy sounds like he's beyond all that, tho.


    • #3
      AFAIK there is no generic Gastro Gard... I would question what she's getting from the vet. Anyway it's going to take much more than 7 days treatment to help him at all. I think the usual course is a month and more if needed.

      If she's worried about cost point her towards the blue pop rocks. There are enough people on this board that have used them that I wouldn't hesitate using them if I thought my horse had ulcers.

      Other than that since you don't pay the bills for this horse, there's not much else you can do.
      Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
      Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
      "Once you go off track, you never go back!"


      • #4
        If horse is insured with no exlcusions; and if diagnosed with scope for ulcers she should be able to get reimbursement for full Gastrogard treatment of 28 days.


        • #5
          I doubt the horse is insured if she isn't worried about all these issues. I don't know what to tell you because it sounds like you have tried to talk some sense in them. So sorry for the horse though.
          Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


          • #6
            I've had a good amount of experience with ulcers and here's what's worked for me. If it's truly ulcers, which it sounds very likely it is, 7 days with GG will essentially do nothing to heal them. It takes 30-60 days for the ulcers to heal. Scoping will only show you a small part of the digestive system due to the limited range of the scope, therefore, I normally do not scope if/when I suspect ulcers. It's costly and, IMO, not very helpful. It's been my experience that some horses will scope clean and yet have ulcers in the hind gut which cannot be scoped. Therefore, if it were me I would start immediately on the "pop rocks". I also would immediately begin feeding 1/2 cup oat flour morning and night - this can be easily and inexpensively made from whole grain oats that you make oat meal with. Grind to powder consistency in a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder. The beta glucan in the oat flour forms a gel that will coat the digestive tract all the way to the hind gut. I have found this (after trying many, many things) to be the most effective and helpful. After the initial 30 days reduce to 1/4 cup 2X's per day ongoing for maintenance.

            Alfalfa is helpful as well. It contains higher calcium which buffers like Tums. Before riding it's helpful to give some form of alfalfa - hay, cubes, or pellets to keep the stomach acid from sloshing around and to help neutralize the stomach. The less grain and more hay you can feed the better.
            Keeping hay in front of the horse at all times is also helpful. Being grazers, horses produce stomach acid 24-7, so if there's no food in the gut the acid attacks the stomach lining. Small hole hay nets are great for this.

            It's also important to be sure to supplement with some kind of pre/probiotics and/or yeast. The hostile environment of the digestive system upsets the normal flora and bacterias which result in an inability to correctly and thoroughly digest feed. The supplement will help to replenish and support this as the gut heals.

            And, yes, ulcers will cause a horse to stand in an odd way. Hind gut ulcers will make a horse especially sensitive on their right side, as this is where the hind gut lays. The odd stance, cramped up muscles from pain, etc. will most definitely make a horse back sore and very unhappy.

            I'd also supplement with magnesium. It helps to release muscle contraction, where calcium contracts the muscle. Therefore, on a higher calcium diet you need to be sure to supplement and balance the cal/mag levels. It's also very helpful in releasing the muscles over the horses body. As the ulcers heal, it's important to address the muscle knotting and overall body soreness caused by the ulcers.

            Ulcers can be controlled, and there are so many more affordable options and info. available these days no horse should have to suffer this pain. I do hope you're able to help this poor guy out and find him some relief.


            • #7
              Remove all stress from the horse's life. No riding, no working, as much turnout as possible.

              Add alfalfa to the horse's diet- hay, cubes, whatever you can get. Analyze the diet and cut down on concentrates where possible.

              Minimum treatment for ulcers is 28 days Gastroguard/Ulcerguard. The dose is 1 full tube per day (if the horse is under 1200 lbs.). If the ulcers are particularly bad, it is not uncommon to do 2 months at the full dose. Then, you should do another few weeks stepping down the dose to 1/2 tube per day, and then 1/4 tube per day.

              No vet is required as Ulcerguard is available over the counter (you just use 1 full tube instead of 1/4 tube as labeled). While I think this is stupid, you've made clear this is what she will do. There is no approved generic.

              If that is too expensive, people have had good luck with this product: http://www.abler.com/products/abprazole It is also available in syringes from the same site. Another one that people use is this one: http://horseprerace.com/

              No matter what, the horse needs treatment fast. I wouldn't go near the back issue until you get a few weeks into ulcer treatment (and no riding) and see where he is at. That me be enough to alleviate the soreness. *Also, all NSAIDS have a gastrointestinal risk, even the herbal ones.


              • #8
                This horse sounds sick, poor thing. Nothing worse than owners who don't see when their animals are suffering. joiedevie99 is right, total rehab is required.

                Have the owner look at this:

                Equine Ulcer Diagnosis by Mark DePaolo, DVM
                , but I suspect the owner will disagree -

                I agree with QHF - the horse must have forage 24/7 to buffer the acid which is released in the stomach by the chewing action. Without it, the ph in the gut is altered, and the natural levels of flora die off, hind gut ulcers, and you get diarrhea.

                I actually use fenugreek powder, which forms a gel over the mucus lining, probably the same as QHF's ground oat flour (must try that if I need to treat ulcers again) and it also tempts poor appetites.


                • #9
                  How many days should a horse be on the pop rocks to notice a difference? My horse is nowhere near like this horse but he has been a little funny with currying the back part of his belly so I would like to treat him to see if that helps. I hope this girl listens to you and does something if my horse was in that pain he would be at the vet in a heartbeat. Also, how much alfalfa should you feed? Would a handful of cubes be enough? He does get a little hot with alfalfa but I could do a little bit without a reaction I think.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks guys. I guess that turned into more of a vent than I had intended but thanks for the tips. He has forage in front of him 90% of the time but spends most of his time cribbing, both in the field and out. He does get a little alfalfa, but I will suggest that owner start buying him alfalfa again like I had her do a while back. Owner had him at my family's farm, but moved because she thought self care would be cheaper and recently moved back. I feel that since she was "on her own" at the self care place that now she feels she knows how to take care of her horse and though always independent and slightly stubborn she has gotten more so. I totally agree with the no stress! But his owner even wants to push that. She wanted to lunge him the other day. I told her that was a bad idea, that he needs total rest, no stress....then I find out that she was riding him around bareback!!! Not sure how she made it on him w/out him going down because his back is so sore! So frustrating that I cant do more. She will take suggestions on "inexpensive" treatments such as the aloe and tractguard.
                    So what is the deal with the poprocks? I have never heard of this! What about the aloe? anyone had results with it?
                    Thinking more about it today and in talking to my mother about this horse I think I will try to scare some sense into this owner. Going to remind her of a horse we had die here on the farm. It was a boarder who's owner also would not get vet attention for his horse. Horse had some signs of ulcers. Would colic at least 2x per month. Not just little bouts. he had the vet out once but only wanted him tubed w oil. The colic always subsided with banamine. We kept a sharp eye on this horse as we had grown attached. It wasnt that the owner didnt care about the horse he was just not able to come See him. We tried to explain that something was WRONG! Even had our vet take a look at him but without the owner's authorization she couldnt/wouldnt treat/examine more thoroughly. We woke one morning to the horse dead in the field. Of course owner was a bit upset, not with us, at least I dont think because he sent more horses to us for boarding. This guy knew better! He was a trainer at a local track, but because he would not listen to us, and wasnt around to see exactly how bad off his horse was, we lost the horse!


                    • #11
                      Our vet clinic compounds Omeprazole/Ranitidine in a paste, and I have NEVER seen such a quick turnaround with ulcer meds as I did on my 23 yo this spring. It was $300/month at the full dose, and his appetite came back, his attitude came back, he stopped biting at himself, his weight came back on, he was able to let me groom his sides. I noticed huge changes within a week. It was well worth every penny, and if I ever need ulcer meds again, I'll be going with that. It's affordable, I did once-a-day dosing, and while it does not have the taste test seal of approval, I was able to get it in his mouth without too much fuss. Supposed to be apple flavored......
                      Somewhere in the world, Jason Miraz is Goodling himself and wondering why "the chronicle of the horse" is a top hit. CaitlinAndTheBay


                      • #12
                        Poor horse - it sounds like this horse's biggest problem is his owner!

                        He seems to have 2 physical problems - ulcers and back issues.

                        For the ulcers the most inexpensive treatments are either the blue pop rocks or generic ranitidine - but he'd need the ranitidine 3 times a day to really show improvement. There's lots of folks on here who've done that and can recommend a dosage. You can buy huge bottles of the stuff at Costco, Sams, etc. The pop rocks have been used a lot by many on this board, including me. Look for abler.com

                        There are several good saddle fitters and chiros that come to So. MD that can help with his back issues. as well as a few chiros. My boy was fixed with ONE treatment after suffering for 3 years with a vet who just kept saying 'he's just sore - give him rest and bute.' Saddle fittings from an excellent independent fitter who comes to our area run around $60.

                        She could fix this horse with a months worth of babysitting money. No excuse.
                        Last edited by Trevelyan96; Apr. 5, 2013, 04:51 PM.
                        Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                        Witherun Farm


                        • #13
                          I'm glad I'm not in your shoes, OP. It is hard when someone just won't admit that what they are doing is not working, especially with an animal involved. There is some good advice on this page http://www.lunatunesfreestyles.com/horse_ulcers.htm.

                          Best of luck and jingles for the horse!
                          It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.
                          Theodore Roosevelt


                          • #14
                            Two options - perhaps it is a combination of not wanting to spend the money, but also self-denial that my poor shnookums could possibly have ulcers.

                            I really think pop rocks does a good job if it isn't too severe. I've used Ulcergard for a week followed by pop rocks in a case where the horse was really affected by the ulcer pain. With other horses, they dealt with it enough that after a couple of days of pop rocks they started improving. Ulcergard makes a difference within 2-3 days (not curing all of the signs, but definitely noticing it improving, such as not kicking at the rider's leg, not dancing when getting brushed, etc.).

                            I have also had success just going to CostCo and getting the generic ranitidine (horse needs 15 to 20 pills 3 times per day). Again, the results don't happen overnight, but if they notice the improvement in the horse in a week of this relatively inexpensive treatment, perhaps they will then invest in something more comprehensive.

                            Once you get this under control, though, these people need to realize it will come back! You need to be vigilant and do pre/post treatment before shows, trailering, etc. Once the horse displays the negative behavior, it is too late, and you'll need to treat the ulcer instead of prevent it.


                            • #15
                              I would recommend having her get her horse checked over by the vet and scoped, so you (and SHE) know that he actually does have ulcers. Scoping is much cheaper than even a month of "generic" meds and then you guys can be on the same page for what needs to be done.
                              A horse demonstrating this much discomfort needs a vet involved.
                              As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


                              • #16
                                When using the ranitidine are they the 75mg or 150 for the dose of 15-20 3 times a day?
                                Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
                                Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
                                "Once you go off track, you never go back!"


                                • #17
                                  I use 20 pills at 150mg, on advice from my vet, of course.


                                  • #18
                                    Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
                                    Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
                                    "Once you go off track, you never go back!"


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by BoyleHeightsKid View Post
                                      When using the ranitidine are they the 75mg or 150 for the dose of 15-20 3 times a day?
                                      Generally, the dose is 3000 mg two-three times daily.

                                      I am able to get 300mg tablets from my vet, so I only have to give 10 pills for the dose, instead of 20 of the 150 mg tablets.
                                      "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                                      • #20
                                        Anyone have experience with any of the chinese herbs, Jade Lady or Stomach Happy?

                                        The vet I just had come out on Thursday for some acupuncture and chiro gave me some Jade Lady to try because he felt Boy was a little ulcery. I don't know if it's that or his adjustment (or both) but his attitude has totally changed. Anyway I should have gotten more than one container from him because what I got is only about 10 days worth and I can't find anywhere online to buy it, so was going to continue with some ranitidine.
                                        Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
                                        Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
                                        "Once you go off track, you never go back!"