good news about the ulcers in my horse

Beau is making a wonderful recovery, all for less than half the price of a GastroGard regimen!

Here’s the rundown of what I’ve been doing (besides his usual 1 scoop of Platinum Performance CJ once a day):

July 16–started UlcerGard once a day plus 3000 mg ranitidine (crushed tablets from the store) twice a day. Tums once a day. 2-3 lbs. small alfalfa pellets once a day with equal amount of soaked beet pulp.

July 21–Continue UG, increased ranitidine to 3300 mg twice a day. Tums and alfalfa and beet pulp same.

July 23–Continue UG, started ranitidine powder from Smartpak (Beau wouldn’t eat the flavored powder alone). Vet prescribed 2700 mg three times a day, online all recommendations were for 3 mg/lb. (and Beau is obviously more than 900 pounds!) so I made a decision that has paid off–1 1/2 wells of powder (about 4000 mg) in a syringe with water and squirted into his mouth twice a day (can’t do it three times eight hours apart). Started Succeed twice a day (recommended loading dose). Discontinued beet pulp but still giving 2-3 lbs. small alfalfa pellets twice a day.

July 25–Hoowee! A bat out of hell! Beau was flying around the arena with his neck arched and HUGE strides. This was the first time he’d performed with that spectacular presence in about six weeks. Someone felt mighty fine. It was great to watch him at liberty like that.

His regimen continued with the approx. 4000 mg/day of ranitidine twice a day, UG dose once a day, 2-3 lbs. alfalfa pellets twice a day, Succeed twice a day (still on the loading dose) and Tums once a day (when he’s from his hay).

July 28?–saddled up and rode lightly after some lunging. I gave him time to get over any soreness from his antics of the Thursday before. No more right hind leg lameness!

Same feeding regimen, except I realized that the antacid tablets are all calcium and switched to using Pro CMC, which is formulated for horses and includes magnesium, another stomach buffer and necessary to balance with calcium.

July 30–Yikes! I’m glad I didn’t have time to ride. I’d have been a goner. That boy had exuberance again, this time in the bigger outdoor arena.

Continued the same medication/feeding from the 28th.

July 31–We had a nice quiet ride inside, working on walking and trotting lateral movements to supple his topline, after working all three gaits on the lungeline in side reins. The bump of his lumbar vertebrae is nearly smooth with the thoracic vertebrae (back where the saddle/rider sits), so I surmise that the ulcers caused tightening of the psoas muscles which were pulling the lumbar vertebrae out of place. Controlling ulcers does indeed equal minimizing chiropractic issues.

Feeding regimen: 4000 mg of ranitidine twice a day, 1-2 oz. Pro CMC once or twice a day (often mixed in the syringe with the ranitidine powder and given at the same time), 2-3 lbs. alfalfa pellets twice a day, Succeed twice a day for another day or two which extends it a little past the 7-day recommended loading phase (still seeing that he needs a little extra help), and UG once a day (not sure how much longer I’ll continue that, maybe another week, or two more tubes).

Estimated cost for 30 days of treatment–

6 tubes of UlcerGard at $37/tube (with USEF discount at SmartPak) = $222

Ranitidine tablets (store bought) plus 3 weeks worth of  powder from SmartPak = approx. $200

About 3 – 50 lb. bags of Alfalfa pellets (about 30 days worth) from grain elevator feed store = $36*

* This is a roughage that will be continued ongoing after the initial healing period.

One bag of beet pulp from same grain elevator feed store = $13

One bottle of Pro CMC (with USEF discount from SmartPak = $32

Generic antacids = $8

Succeed (with USEF discount from Smartpak) 30 days worth (including loading dose) = $ 130 *

* Succeed is a supplement that will be fed once a day as a preventative ongoing after the 30 day healing period.

Total cost for 30 day treatment = $641

If you only account for the medicine to actually treat the gastric ulcers, the cost is reduced to $462, which is MUCH less than the $1009 cost of the 28-day regimen of GastroGard available at SmartPak (vet prescription required).

It’s been two weeks (already half done with treatment) and my boy is feeling great and looking wonderful. For a significant savings over the cost of GastroGard, I am treating not only the gastric ulcers (the only ulcers that GG treats) but am going beyond and also able to treat hindgut ulcers, which GG does not treat. I am also adding in supplements that will help to prevent ulcers from recurring.

For more information, I went into detail last week in this post.

Edit (18 Dec 2013): Besides the treatment, Beau was also on his usual 1 scoop/day of Platinum Performance and a probiotic, usually Probios powder, because the brewer’s yeast in other probiotics cause allergic rhinitis in him. He has made a full recovery from the ulcers and looks fantastically fit! And I was wrong about the Succeed–he LOVES the taste of it. He didn’t like the beet pulp.j

Edit (30 Jan 2014): I get a lot of traffic to this post and the other post about Beau’s ulcers. I hope it can provide some good information in addition to what’s widely available from all the vet sites. Consider this one case study upon many…I wish to add a summary that while I was experimenting through the first couple of weeks with Beau’s ulcer treatment, I would recommend Succeed and ranitidine as the main treatments for ulcers and wish that I had started at the higher dose of ranitidine from the beginning. Also, since Succeed is a supplement rather than medicine, a horse can stay on it continually. Beware, however, that since it aids digestion, horses will get more from their forage. I’ve found that Beau doesn’t need any vitamin/mineral supplements and seemed to be very mildly laminitic (noticeable as footsoreness and stretching of the white lines on all four hooves) until I took him off Platimum altogether. Six months since I started ulcer treatment, he’s doing great with Succeed as his only supplement and a probiotic on occasion. Also, I had cut back on the alfalfa pellets after two months since starting them.

ps (30 Jan 2014)–This was our second summer of dealing with ulcers. I believe Beau had hindgut ulcers from the summer before that I hadn’t treated and which led to many chiropractic issues in the time between. He’s only had a couple of adjustments since October 2013 and very minor.

Please leave a comment if you have a story to share of your own experience. I’d love to hear from you!

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16 Responses to good news about the ulcers in my horse

  1. Pingback: more about equine ulcers than I ever expected |

  2. deborah says:

    Thanks for posting your saga, Melanie. Struggling with ulcer treatments with my little Oldenburg mare at the moment, your sucesss story cheered me up and keeps me hopeful!

  3. Melanie says:

    You’re so welcome! I’m glad my experience can help someone. This was the second summer in a row that I had to treat ulcers in my boy. Now I know that when he gets warm, his stomach acts up. I’ll crush some ranitidine tablets (other-the-counter) into his other supplements to give him relief during the warmest part of the day and/or an evening dose of Succeed (he gets it every morning), depending on the day’s situation to prevent them from starting again. But that initial four week course of treatment was a lot of work, although much cheaper than and more complete than just using the once a day GastroGuard.

    Good luck with your mare. I’d love to hear about your experience and even see pics.

  4. Elinor Yee says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Interesting to read all the details about your regimen. I am doing a trial with omeprazole granules to see if ulcers are the culprit for me and my horse. Hard to get ranitidine in her, not sure it will work for us, but worth giving it a try as I know that hind gut ulcers might be her biggest problem and they will not really be treated by the omeprazole. It would be great to see her really happy under saddle! Keep in touch with updates about your boy!

  5. Melanie says:

    You’re welcome, Elinor. Good luck with your girl! I’d like to hear how that goes.

    You can keep up with the ups and downs of my big guy under the tag “horse” ;)

  6. Meredith says:

    Hi Melanie,

    I think I’m dealing with ulcers in my gelding and I was curious with the ranitidine, how did you know how many pills to crush up to equal 3000 mg? My guy is probably 1000 lbs. After this terrible winter I noticed he is being a hard keeper and looks like he has lost some top line and his butt doesn’t look as full. He is also itching all the time. He is a barrel horse. I noticed the end of the season last year we was pretty grouchy with other horses. He was still competing good though. Yesterday when I pulled him in from the rest of the horses he was very upset and had diarrhea. Which he kinda always had under stress, but it was extra bad yesterday. Sorry of the book.

  7. Melanie says:

    Thanks for commenting, Meredith. I’m no vet, but in my experience, it sounds a lot like ulcers. Did you know that as many as 80% of performance horses have ulcers of some kind? Even 50% of pasture horses have ulcers. They don’t have to lose weight to be diagnosed either. Given what you describe, especially since this is a barrel racer, I’d treat for ulcers anyway.

    As for ranitidine. Everywhere I researched, the suggested dose I found was 3 mg/lb. bodyweight. So, I went with it. Assuming my 16.1 American Warmblood was about 1200 pounds max (not a heavy guy for his size but I’d rather overestimate than underestimate), I went with the 3600 mg figure for him. Anything less didn’t make much of a difference.

    Also, putting him on Succeed worked better to keep him healthy than I ever imagined. I would suggest that also. SmartPak has a good deal (if you have USEF membership, it’s 5% off), but the Succeed website has a starter pack with 10 free doses (at over $3/dose, that’s a nice savings, not to mention their guarantee if you don’t see an improvement). Given the diarrhea, I’d get probiotics into your buy too. Diarrhea is going to unbalance the hindgut microbials, especially if it’s acidic due to excess stomach acid. Succeed helps heal hindgut ulcers–my boy is a billboard for that, which is why I now recommend it!–and in doing so also helps keep gut flora in the right balance. It’s the gut flora that produce vitamin B12. Horses don’t need us to feed extra if they’re bodies are functioning right.

    Okay, so now, who wrote the book? ;)

    I’ve done a LOT of reading up on this issue, so I’m just summarizing here.

    It’s not expensive to treat with ranitidine, if you can manage 2-3 times a day…I suggest crushed pills mixed into some alfalfa pellets and spritzed with water to make it stick. Avoid sugars, especially since a possible side effect of ulcers can be laminitis; I’ve also discovered that my boy had a little of that going on with his ulcers–the hooves do tell! With Gastrogard, you pay for the convenience of once a day, and for the full 28 day regimen, that’s $$$. Crushing ranitidine tablets will cost you about 1/5-1/4 the cost of Gastrogard.

    Good luck! I hope you’ll come back and update me on his progress.

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  9. Elinor says:

    Melanie, I am tapering off the course of omeprazole granules now. Huge appetite increase in the horse! If you want to check us out we are at http://www.aHorseForElinor.WordPress.com
    I have a tag for omeprazole there.

  10. Melanie says:

    So glad to hear something worked for you. There are so many options. After spending $$$ on GastroGard in 2012, I wanted to save some cash the second time. I had to experiment, but things worked. I’m keeping an eye out for anything coming up this summer, but I think this year is covered with the regular Succeed. We’re already starting out the spring fat and healthy and shedding like normal (unlike a year ago).

    I checked out the blog. Love the pics and info you’ve shared!

  11. Elinor Yee says:

    Melanie,
    I am worried, too, about the ulcers ever coming back. Reading experiences from others who have dealt with it, more than once, is definitely helpful. I hear you on using “Succeed” – from what I hear it really can work wonders. If need be, and if my “low key” maintenance with probiotics and psyllium husk, (plus a couple of months on U-Guard just to follow up.) doesn’t help, then I’ll have to bite the bullet and go with Succeed…

  12. Melanie says:

    I was skeptical of Succeed–too many good things written about it and nothing negative–but I’ve found it works great. I’ve had to reorder a box of the syringes for backup when my boy needs more than one dose in a day. In the last couple of days, I’ve been seeing softer manure, which I hope is only the result of increased water intake but puts me on alert for other possibilities. So far, he’s doing well with Succeed and probiotics as the only digestive aids, but I have pills of ranitidine on hand to crush if necessary.

    I’d like to know how the U-Guard works. I don’t know if I mentioned I can’t use that because of my boy’s respiratory allergies to some of the ingredients in that product. However, Smartpak has 20% off right now, so the carton of syringes I mentioned had a nice discount.

  13. Gloria Beduhn says:

    Thanks for this information. And I’m glad you’ve followed up on it recently. I’ve been battling ulcer problems with Leo since he came back from a trainer about 18 months ago. I’ve had him on generic omeprazole (MUCH cheaper than the name brands) 4 times now, but problems start up again about two weeks after the 30-day regimen. Because omeprazole stops acid in the stomach, I’m reluctant to use it longer than that. I’ve had him on probiotics, the SmartPak ulcer supplement, Egusin, flaxseed, Neighlox, etc., but none of it maintains the “solidness” of his mind and reduced tension in his body for very long. I found this blog in a search for ranitidine and think I’ll try it. Leo’s an appaloosa/holsteiner cross with an interesting history, which may be a contributing factor to this problem. He had one successful year of showing, but I don’t know if he’ll ever be solid enough to have another.

  14. Gloria Beduhn says:

    Thanks for all this information and for keeping it current. I’ve been battling Leo’s ulcers ever since he came back from a trainer about 18 months ago. So far, I’ve given him four 30-day treatments with generic omeprazole (much cheaper than the name brands). He’s great for about 2-3 weeks after the treatment, then starts backsliding. I’ve tried following up with Neighlox, Egusin, different probiotics, flaxseed, some Smartpak gut supplements, etc., but always end up going back to the omeprazole. I found this blog during a search for ranitidine for horses, and after reading about it, may give it a try. Leo’s an app/holsteiner cross with an interesting background, which may have been the original cause of his problems. He had one successful year of showing and I’d like to do more, but he’s too sporadic in his ability to accept training. He’s smart and talented, but carries too much tension when his ulcers bother him.

  15. Gloria Beduhn says:

    Sorry about the double post — my machine had a major hiccup and I didn’t notice it actually posted the first one!

  16. Melanie says:

    No problem, Gloria. I’m sorry to hear about your problems. Have you checked for pain that might be stressing him? I discovered that my saddle wasn’t fitting right, even after having it adjusted. I’ve had it adjusted again but am preparing to buy another saddle. Also, my boy was suffering with long term thrush that I didn’t realize until I had given him time off because his ulcers were so bad. I believe his ulcers came from pain that he was trying to tell me about but I wasn’t listening. His bad behaviors (resisting up transitions, occasionally running out on me, etc.) have all but disappeared since I’ve addressed other issues and he’s staying fat and happy. It could also be stress from the change in weather or hot/cold/wind/etc.

    I’m finding that keeping him on Succeed and Probios daily plus Pro CMC either squirted into his mouth by a syringe (he takes things very well orally) or drizzled over some alfalfa pellets before I ride helps a lot. So far, I haven’t seen any signs of ulcers returning, but as soon as I see a sign of loose stools or pain in the points shown by Dr. DiPaolo, I give my boy a dose of ranitidine for some temporary acid relief and/or a second daily dose of Succeed. Within a day or two, he’s usually fine again. It’s never over, but we can help them by being observant.

    But to be on omeprazole several times…yikes! Get him off any sweet feeds, make sure he has good hay in front of him 24/7 (slow feeders are great for this), and make sure he doesn’t have hoof/soft tissue/arthritis/tack fitting problems that might be causing pain. Good luck!

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