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.

EDIT (22 June 2014)–There are now generics for GastroGard that are cheaper and easier than crushing ranitidine tablets. For $150-$180/month, you can now treat your horse with omeprazole or a compound (offered by some veterinarians).

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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