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Tell me about ulcer symptoms and treatment

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  • Tell me about ulcer symptoms and treatment

    Planning to have the vet out on Monday (we're snowed in here currently), but I'm worrying...

    Here's the situation. 8 yr old TB mare - typical OTTB mare type. She's nervous and a worrier. Hates to be stalled for more than a day or so, and is kind of "fussy".

    She's had to be stalled a lot due to TERRIBLE weather here, and for the last two weeks has been on/off her feed. Somewhat interested in hay, but not really in grain. Now, at first I didnt really worry bc she is the type that goes off feed if you change her routine, she's been stalled more than usual, its a day that ends in Y... you know the type!

    But, its been going on for two weeks. She is totally disinterested in feed and just picks at her hay. Seems to have regular enough bowel movements (considering she isnt eating much) and drinking water. Does not seem to be in pain, but is listless and has lost a bit of weight. She occasionally seems mildly colicky, but not really - thats not my instinct.

    So, I'm thinking we are dealing with ulcers. What treatment and maintenance have you guys done with success? Does this sound like ulcers to you? She is on 3lbs of Nutrena SafeChoice and coastal hay, if that makes a difference.

    Advice on treatment for right now and future maintenance would be appreciated.
    Rural Property Specialist
    Keller Williams Realtors

    Email Me for Horse Property!

  • #2
    There have been so many threads here about ulcers recently. They get brought up almost every 2 days.

    Your best bet is to do a search!
    Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

    Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!


    • #3
      Yes, sounds like your horse is prone to ulcers.

      Good for you for involving your vet.

      I don't personally advocate scoping. You can easily test to see if you have ulcers by treating and watching. The only proven treatment is Ulcergard/Gastrogard. (Both are the same thing, but the former is marketed as a preventative and the latter as a cure. You theoretically give them in different dosages.) Generally speaking, if you give one full tube of Gastrogard for a week and see an improvement, you know you have ulcers. You then have to treat for a full month before tapering off.

      There are a variety of options once the ulcers are healed, including SmartGut, u-7, Uguard, papaya juice, aloe vera juice and alfalfa. Lots of us deal with ulcery horses, welcome to the club.


      • #4
        Did you get blood pulled? This was a pony I had and he was in chronic kidney failure. We felt it was ulcers but it was not.
        Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
        Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
        & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt


        • Original Poster

          Vet was out yesterday - pulled blood and took a fecal sample. Apparently there is some kind of test from the fecal sample that can determine if she has ulcers without having to scope her.
          So, we'll see what the results are.
          Sigh.. hope she is okay.
          Rural Property Specialist
          Keller Williams Realtors

          Email Me for Horse Property!


          • #6
            Researching here on COTH is a good idea, but in the meantime you should know that scoping and pulling blood can both show a neg for ulcers and the horse can still have ulcers.

            My vet does not advocate scoping as the symptoms are usually so obvious and your horse sounds like a great candidate. We went ahead and treated for 30 days with ulcergard and then U7 for maintenance. Every time she leaves the property she gets ulcergard and so far its been almost 3 years with no colic or problems.

            Good luck and just know that every horse is different, mine almost died from colic because I did the ranitadine instead of ulcergard. I would not take the cheap route
            RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

            "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."


            • #7
              I didnt really worry bc she is the type that goes off feed if you change her routine, she's been stalled more than usual, its a day that ends in Y... you know the type!

              And this caught my eye, it's the "type" that has ulcers. You change anything and they get upset. Sometimes it's a vicious circle, the change causes pain and the horse learns that change equals gut pain, and they're upset just thinking about it. Once you get rid of the pain, the horse will stop fretting so much over changes. Change will no longer equal pain, if this makes sense.
              RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

              "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."


              • #8
                My vet also does not think scoping is necessarily the best approach to finding out if a horse has ulcers. Ulcergard is a safe product, and the cost of scoping vs. many tubes of Ulcergard come out to the same price. So, it is easier to just start dosing with the paste and see what happens than putting the horse through scoping. If it doesn't improve in 10 days, then she will do something more invasive.


                • #9
                  I have 2 that are prone to ulcers. One is the textbook case, weight loss, picks at hay, grinds teeth, paces, constant worrier.

                  The other colics (at least that;'s what we lean toward as after testing for many things, ulcers seem to be the only answer).

                  For both, ulcerguard works extremely well for the stomach ones. The latter guy had sucralfates added into his mix of ulcer treatment for colon ulcers. I haven't found too much info on these types, as from what I read, they are harder to treat.

                  I have also added Succeed into their meals. Verdict is still out on that one. I have switched diets for one that is "grain free", it is a balancer, so we shall see if this helps too.

                  Good luck as getting the weight back on one who has lost can be hard. Ulcers are a very frustrating thing and they have given me some I am sure!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Marcella View Post
                    My vet also does not think scoping is necessarily the best approach to finding out if a horse has ulcers. Ulcergard is a safe product, and the cost of scoping vs. many tubes of Ulcergard come out to the same price. So, it is easier to just start dosing with the paste and see what happens than putting the horse through scoping. If it doesn't improve in 10 days, then she will do something more invasive.
                    You can do 10 days of ulcergard for thesame price as scoping and you will know within a couple of days. How is her coat, is it glissening and have a high shine or is it just regular? If you do ulcergard now you may be shocked at her Summer coat. . .

                    I'm supposed to be cleaning the house, but this is much more educational
                    RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

                    "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."


                    • #11
                      Instead of scoping or trying ulcergard or gastrogard, my vet put my horse on ranitidine. I saw a change within a few days. That is a much cheaper option- but needs to be dosed minimum 2x daily, preferably 3x.


                      • #12
                        One of mine has ulcers, we did the Ulcerguard and sucralfate(sp?) then went to NeighLox (always) and Cimetidine (as needed, if he acts the least bit off) and Ulcerguard for high-stress situations. Plus he now lives outside with the barn optional, grass hay available 24/7, alfalfa fed before grain, and is fed less grain than before, now with beet pulp added. He went from severe colic-like symptoms "fake colics" as I called them, about once a month or so, and mild to moderate "fake colics" several times a month, to now, he has been happy, healthy, and fat and shiny since he's been on the meds.


                        • #13
                          Giving Gastroguard and noticing changes may indicate ulcers and a scope may not be necessary. However, after a course of gg, a scope will tell you if they are healed or not. If not, another scope later will tell you how the horse is doing. I have scoped three times, and plan to do it again next year when my young horse has had time to grow up a bit. I am happier doing that than having them be not quite healed and start up again and keep fiddling around. I'm not happy about the cost, though.
                          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                          • #14
                            Although I haven't had a problem in years now, I always think I would like to scope to just see where we stand.

                            The cost is what stops me, I always find something more important.
                            RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

                            "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."


                            • #15
                              About how much is it to have your horse scoped?? I keep reading comments like those above but honestly have no idea what it costs!
                              Originally posted by RugBug
                              Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.


                              • #16
                                Hope the bloodwork confirms which sure sounds a lot like ulcers.

                                I have the poster child of Equine Gastric Ulcers! As a 7 month old weanling he had a pot belly, ribs, wicked ugly coat then went off grain. Pulled blood, results indicated ulcers, after one dose of Gastrogard bam, he was back on grain. Completed the treatment. Completely redid his diet to be "Ulcer preventative" and life went on.

                                Last summer as a blooming 2 1/2 year old he was used as a guinna pig (previously had ulcers but did not suspect any now) in a Merial Gastric scoping clinic. I forget if 8 or 9 horses were scoped in all. He was in perfect weight, eating well and not in training. He had a honking ulcer on his right side!!

                                And recently he resorted to some behaviors at meals which suggest an ulcer is back. I am treating him for that.

                                So, in one horse I've seen it both ways- classic craptastic looking horse and the picture of health. Observation is my friend.


                                • #17
                                  If you think your horse has ulcers, the easiest thing to do is just treat them for the ulcers. Scoping is an added cost that you could just skip and treat for a couple days. USUALLY the horse is much better even after a few tubes of the stuff.

                                  She seems like the type that would get them and since she has been stalled so much, it makes sense.
                                  I don't know what the treatment is, but like a tube of gastroguard for a couple days, then drop it to 1/4 tube.
                                  Good luck!


                                  • #18
                                    My horse did not present for ulcers other than by attitude. When his acupuncture point lit up over his stomach and spleen, we scoped him. Because there were other issues that we were treating at the time and he was on several other meds, we couldn't just introduce another med i.e. gastroguard, etc., without a pretty solid reason. Blood work prior showed a low white and low red count, yet he looked like the picture of health and never missed a meal. The scope showed Grade 2 gastric ulcers. He has been on the gastroguard for 2 1/2 weeks and is back to normal for the first time since September 09. As I said, there were other issues, this just being the last, hopefully, that we have to treat. I will have him scoped again at the end of the first month and then again at the end of the second. My insurance is picking up the bill, less my $250 deductible. First time claiming and very thankful to be able to.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks for your help

                                      Ordered 28 tubes of Ulcerguard. Looks like it shipped today, and I'm running up to the tackstore tomorrow to see if I can buy a few tubes, if they have any. No one has any in stock!

                                      So, we're doing 28 days of Ulcerguard - full tube.

                                      I also added "U-Gard Pellets" to her Smartpak.. I've been told by several friends that they started their horses on this after doing ulcer treatment, and they've had no problems since.

                                      Bought an extra tube of Ulcerguard for traveling, shows, prolonged confinement, etc.

                                      I'm also moving her starting in March to full time pasture board. She'll have a shared pasture and a run in shed. I'm thinking that will help.

                                      Rural Property Specialist
                                      Keller Williams Realtors

                                      Email Me for Horse Property!