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Foal ulcers :( Need your advice

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  • Foal ulcers :( Need your advice

    The last three evenings in a row, my precious little filly has had a mild colic where she eats a couple minutes (triple crown growth) and then starts to act in some pain by lying down a few times and pawing a little bit. She does this for a few minutes and then is pretty stoic. About a half hour or so after eating the little grain she does, she will slowly start to munch hay. There is nothing I can think of that has changed in her diet or routine. She is in good weight, on a regular and vet-approved worming program, and gets a lot of turnout. I keep her in at night as winters are pretty tough here. She has been very healthy until a few days ago.

    She is 7 months and has not yet been weaned (I never wean early). I was thinking about starting to wean her but don't want to do that if she's already having an issue with ulcers. What are your thoughts about ulcers on a foal such as this. I did have the vet out this evening even though she didn't feel too badly. She just isn't right and I wanted to be sure I do the right thing. My vet wants me to withhold grain over this weekend and feed hay only and see if we avoid the episodes. Would you all be inclined to think that if she is comfortable through the weekend without grain that she may have ulcers? Meaning that the grain may be causing her pain to an already irritated stomach? If so, how would you proceed from here? Naturally, I plan to follow the advice of my vet but I know this is a panel of very educated and time-tested breeders and I'm wondering if any of you have experienced this before with your foals. Any other ideas if not ulcers?

  • #2
    I would try some yogurt with rantidine (H2 blocker for ulcers) at 6.6 mg/kg BID. You can buy the rantidine at Costco at a decent price and you can use a weight tape to estimate weight of your weanling and calculate the does. We use Trader Joe's yogurt (usually strawberry) as most of our horses like it. And remove the TC Growth.


    • #3
      I would get her on Gastro Gard ASAP. I had a foal once who was acting strange and we scoped him - grade 4 (out of 4) bleeding ulcers. This foal was not weaned and had never had a moment of stress or medication in his life.... I would not mess around, foals die much more easily from ulcers than adult horses. 1/4 tube/day should be fine.


      • #4
        I agree that foals can die from ulcers in a blink of an eye. Do not mess around with alternatives, go straight to gastrogard/ulcergard today. Jingles.
        McDowell Racing Stables

        Home Away From Home


        • Original Poster

          Thank you for the input. I should add that the foals mother had a bout with ulcers in the past. She also has a stress free life. I wonder if there is a genetic component? These guys get good free choice grass/timothy round the clock and a slice or two of alfalfa at night when they come inside.

          I found a friend this am that has ulcergard and I will get it from her today and start the foal on it.

          In your experiences, what was your protocol for treatment in a foal? How long did you keep the foal on meds and did you later switch to something else or stay on GG/UG? Thank you for your help.


          • #6
            I would keep the foal on it for at least 30 days including about a week after weaning so how long would depend upon when you decide to wean. Get some for mom too as it isn't unusual for her to flare up at weaning time as well.
            McDowell Racing Stables

            Home Away From Home


            • #7
              Gastroguard ASAP! Good luck. I'm really surprised your vet didn't put your foal on it. It can be very very serious.
              Fresh, Frozen & ISO Warmblood Breedings FB Group


              • #8
                All three foals from my one mare had ulcers and were treated within a week of birth. This last one was orphaned at 2 1/2 months and went back onto ulcerguard for a month (2 clicks a day) along with probiotics and some stuff called APF. She's coming up for five months old and is doing very well - when she reaches 6 months old I'll start her on smart-gut.

                I have a tube of ulcerguard in the feedroom and won't hesitate to use it if she looks even the slightest bit off - as others have said, don't mess about with foal ulcers.
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                • #9
                  My colt started unexpectedly cribbing at six months (he had not been weaned either, and nothing had changed).
                  I put him on omeprazole packets for over a month. I have since weaned him from mom (he is 8 months now) with no problem. I don't know if he had ulcers, he didn't seem to 'feel' or look poorly, just cribbed.
                  He's not a heavy duty cribber, thank goodness, but he still does it occasionally.

                  He was not on grain early in life, as some suggested to me, and he has had a lot of turnout. In fact he cribs more in the field than in his stall.

                  Jingles for your baby, I hate it when they don't feel well!
                  We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you all. I was able to get 8 tubes of Ulcergard from a friend today so I'm giving the first dose to her right now. Is it strange that she was only feeling sick a couple minutes after eating a little grain and then half hr later she was fine? Does the grain aggravate an ulcer that quickly? Other than her evening feeding, she has seemed happy and bright throughout the day and night. I have her on a camera at night and have been watching her closely.


                    • #11
                      That is exactly when grain would aggravate an ulcer. They usually start eating and then they stop, act uncomfortable for a bit and may even go back to eating after a few minutes. That's also why horses tend to crib when eating grain, the grain bothers their stomach.


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by ticofuzzy View Post
                        That is exactly when grain would aggravate an ulcer. They usually start eating and then they stop, act uncomfortable for a bit and may even go back to eating after a few minutes. That's also why horses tend to crib when eating grain, the grain bothers their stomach.
                        Thank you. You are all very helpful. I gave her 2 clicks of the GG and won't give her any grain till after the weekend. I'm hoping I see a brighter foal this evening when she comes in. I will let you know.


                        • #13
                          Foal Ulcers

                          Originally posted by ticofuzzy View Post
                          I would get her on Gastro Gard ASAP. I had a foal once who was acting strange and we scoped him - grade 4 (out of 4) bleeding ulcers. This foal was not weaned and had never had a moment of stress or medication in his life.... I would not mess around, foals die much more easily from ulcers than adult horses. 1/4 tube/day should be fine.
                          Absolutely. I wondered why mine was acting oddly after she ate..she was a warmblood baby,. 4 wks old, would not touch feed, just Mommy's milk. And often turn upside down looking like she was cast, and just laid there. She was plump, never thought of ulcers. My TB breeder friends in Ocala put me straight in 5 minutes...I never knew babies had ulcers. ...5 days later....normal baby, sharing feed like it was her best friend. No more upside-down. She got 1/4 tube Gastroguard for 30 days, problem solved.


                          • #14
                            Been there, done that - it is not something to mess around with. Wonder why this happens? In my case he had swallowed amniotic fluid and the vet put him on antibiotics immediately after he was born, so think that had something to do with it -- but he was very poorly for a while and it showed in his condition. He is a big strapping 4 y.o. now and seems healthy as a horse.
                            Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                            • Original Poster

                              How many of you after the 30 days of GG/UG were in the clear with your foals ulcer? Or was it something that lingered for a long time?

                              Tonight, I didn't allow her any grain (nor this morning either) and tonight she seems very eager to eat. No colic episode Lets hope this keeps up! I'm hopeful to see if she feels well after going back on grain in a few days WITH the GG on board. I plan to give it to her for a month and see where we're at.


                              • #16
                                We had my foal scoped again after 30 days and he was almost clear of the ulcers. We ended up keeping him on it for another 2 weeks after that and didn't bother scoping again - just declared him cured. My foal's ulcers were extremely bad, so yours may not need it more than 30 days (which is the standard treatment period).
                                I have no idea why some of them get ulcers and some are fine. My foal (and his mother) had never been without forage in front of them from the time he was born. 24/7 turnout with friends. No stress. No medication. No sickness. Who knows?!?!?!


                                • Original Poster

                                  I saw a statistic that 50% of foals may have ulcers. Wow! That is crazy if its true. I read that in a vet book today. I've had a few foals and haven't seen any sign of ulcers in any of the others. Do you who have done a lot of breeding see a lot of this in your foals?


                                  • #18
                                    This is a very interesting topic, I have been avidly following this thread.

                                    About Time--which vet book provided this statistic? My filly (who I don't see as often as I would LIKE to, unfortunately ), was weaned about 3 weeks ago, and when I'm out there in the evening right after she has been fed (which is the only time I'm able to see her, because I can't work with or handle her when she is out with the other foals during the day), she seems to do "drive bys" with her dinner, though eventually finishes it. She has eaten most of it by the time I get there, but there is often some left, and she seems not to "hunker down and focus on finishing."

                                    She does eat her hay, but doesn't relax and start munching away like "a mining machine" the way she did when she was with mom. She used to HOOVER hay, and shared mom's grain before weaning. Post weaning, she is the "low woman on the totem pole" with the two other weanlings--she was introduced to *them*, and they had been together since birth, so had already formed a clique--from which she was excluded. She did get doses of Ulcerguard the morning of weaning, and for a couple of days afterward.

                                    My BM is SO busy that it's not possible to ask her about it, and not possible for her to observe the filly's eating habits; I am the only one who would pay close attention, and I am only able to be out there about two evenings a week. She is otherwise in good health (seemingly) and in good weight, though I don't know how much forage she is getting when she is turned out during the day. The BM throws hay, but I suspect the other foals get the lion's share. Should I be worried?
                                    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                                    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


                                    • Original Poster

                                      The vet book is called "Horse Owner's Veterinary Handbook". It says this verbatim... " Ulcer disease is common in foals. In fact, it has been estimated that up to 50 percent of foals will develop an ulcer during the first 4 months of life".

                                      I wouldn't be surprised Dr.Doolittle if your filly was having some discomfort but I'm certainly not qualified to say yes or no. It's definitely something to consider since she was recently weaned. Maybe you could try a little more GG and see if she starts to eat more consistently?

                                      For my filly, I find it strange that this is coming up now when she is 7 months old and has been in perfect health. Why now when she's not weaned yet? Not a single thing has changed for her.
                                      Last edited by About Time; Jan. 26, 2013, 10:46 PM. Reason: Punctuation


                                      • #20
                                        does anyone have any stats on why foals are getting so many ulcers? besides the obvious: grain, antibiotics, stress..... it worries me that obviously common equine management is producing ulcers.... ?