Dr. Lydia Gray of SmartPak Answers your Health Questions: Ulcer Care

by Dr. Lydia Gray | December 26th, 2013 12:48 PM | No Comments

Originally published in November/December issue of Show Horse Today

DrLydiaGray_SmartPak-cropped-225Over 60% of Performance Horses have ulcers. Although this month’s question asks about an Irish Sport Horse, clearly ulcer prevention is important for any performance horse.

Q: Dear Dr. Gray,

I have my semi retired Irish Sport horse on ulcer guard and someone suggested gut smart because it’s cheaper, are they the same thing?

KJ, New York

A: Dear KJ,

While protecting our pocketbooks can be as important as protecting our horses, in this case we’re talking about two (actually three) different things that work best together. That is, they’re complementary. Let me explain!

Step one of the three-step plan proven to stop gastric ulcers is treating your horse with GastroGard® (omeprazole), the only medication approved by the FDA to treat equine stomach ulcers. Since you don’t specifically mention that your horse has currently been diagnosed with ulcers, I’m going to guess that, before his retirement, this was a common health condition you struggled with that has gotten better with a reduction in training and stress.

In that case, we can move right along to step number two: maintaining stomach health. In a university-led research study, our SmartGut Ultra was shown to maintain stomach health in horses under stress, as well as horses that had been treated for gastric lesions. According to the lead investigator, Dr. Frank Andrews from Louisiana State University, “if your horse is under stress, I recommend feeding SmartGut Ultra to help reduce your horse’s risk of developing ulcers.”

Step three (which you’re already doing) is to give UlcerGard® (also omeprazole), the only non-prescription medication approved by the FDA to prevent equine stomach ulcers. This makes it the right choice before, during, and after stressful events like horse shows, clinics, and moving to a new barn.

So to be clear, give prescription GastroGard on your veterinarian’s advice to treat, SmartGut Ultra as daily support, and UlcerGard for extra support during extra stress to prevent. Since omeprazole completely blocks acid production in the stomach–yet some acid is needed for proper digestion–it’s a good idea to give your horse a break from omeprazole yet still protect his stomach tissues with a daily supplement.

About the Author

Dr. Lydia Gray is the Medical Director/Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak Equine where she networks with veterinarians; provides print and electronic media content, and guides food, supplement and pharmaceutical selections. Dr. Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. She continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country.

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