May 12, 2020 By Taylor Froiland, PharmD 0

Pharmacist: How to Prevent and Treat Horse Stomach Ulcers with GastroGard Omeprazole

by Taylor Froiland, PharmD.

 

We couldn’t believe the response to our post comparing Previcox vs. Equioxx for horses.  Thank you to all who read and commented — we truly hope it was helpful.  Many customers have also asked us about stomach ulcers in horses.

Most horses (80-90%) will present with stomach ulcers over the course of their lifetime. Stomach ulcers in horses (known as Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS)) are a painful condition. Preventing ulcers in horses and foals are imperative to the overall health and longevity of a horse’s life.

Horse owners should watch for and speak to their veterinarian if they observe any of the following symptoms:

  • Weight loss or body weight changes
  • Resistance under saddle
  • Irritability and other changes in attitude
  • Lack of energy and stamina
  • Loss of appetite
  • Behavior indicating discomfort around the flanks, often characterized by a dislike of brushing/blanketing
  • Low-grade anemia

Multiple studies have shown that the following risk factors that accompany squamous ulceration in horses and foals:

  • Rigorous training in some performance horses (but not always)
  • Limited turnout
  • Diet or routine change
  • Grain-based feeds
  • Limited forage
  • Intermittent feeding
  • Travel and competition

 

How to get rid of stomach ulcers in horses?

Studies indicate that Gastrogard/omeprazole paste is highly effective in treating stomach ulcers in horses.[1] The drug is used in conditions where the inhibition of gastric acid secretion may be beneficial, including gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, dyspepsia,  peptic ulcer disease, aspiration syndromes, and Zollinger Ellison syndrome.

Omeprazole dosage for horses is typically 4 mg/kg bwt per os, once daily for up to 30 days.

Studies also indicate that gastric ulcers in untreated horses do not demonstrate a significant rate of spontaneous healing – i.e. they typically do not heal on their own.  Treating equine gastric ulcer syndrome with proper products is key to a fast recovery, prevention of recurrence, and prevention of serious health complications due to the stomach ulcer.

 

Frequently asked questions:

At the pharmacy, we often get the following questions relating to stomach ulcers in horses:

Is Gastrogard the only treatment available?

No, there is another commercially available product on the market called UlcerGard. UlcerGard has the same active ingredient as GastroGard, which is omeprazole. Omeprazole Paste can also be custom compounded if your horse has an allergy or sensitivity to Gastrogard or UlcerGard. The custom compounded version can be flavored as green apple, molasses, or peanut butter.

 

What dose of GastroGard should I give a horse with stomach ulcers?

  • For Treatment of Gastric Ulcers: Omeprazole dosage for horses is typically 4 mg/kg of body weight, once daily for up to 4 weeks.
  • For Prevention of Gastric Ulcers: Omeprazole dosage for horses is typically 1-2 mg/kg of body weight, once daily.

 

How often do you give GastroGard to horses?

GastroGard as well as our custom compounded omeprazole paste are typically given once daily. As always, it is best to follow the directions as prescribed by your Veterinarian.

 

Can you only buy one tube of GastroGard?

GastroGard is sold by the tube, and is commonly used for 7 to 28 days. One tube of GastroGard is used per 1250 pounds of body weight.

 

What are the best prices for GastroGard?

The price per tube of GastroGard is typically $35 per tube. Compounded Omeprazole Paste is often cheaper.

 

Can a horse have human strength omeprazole?

Although the active ingredient in the medication is the same, the therapeutic dose for horses is much larger than what a human would ever ingest.

 

My horse is sensitive to GastroGard. Are others available?

A veterinary compounding pharmacy is able to offer custom compounded alternatives to meet the needs of a horse with such a sensitivity.

 

My horse does not like orange flavor, are other flavors available?

Compounded omeprazole paste can be flavored to suit the individual tastes of the horse. Popular flavors include green apple, molasses, and peanut butter.

 

ExpressVet Pharmacy offers:

ExpressVet offers omeprazole paste for horses in a form that can be customized to the specific needs of your animal. The oral paste is prescribed by your Vet and administered once a day in a syringe form to the horse. The treatment period is typically up to 30 days.

A 30 day supply prescribed by your veterinarian is prepared by our licensed pharmacists. We have 3 different flavors available that horses love.

The active ingredient in the paste (omeprazole) works to suppress the stomach acids that cause ulcers in horses and prevents equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS). Omeprazole is absorbed into the horse’s system, binding to the acid-secreting cells of the stomach. Sudden discontinuation of omeprazole can cause a rebound acid effect, at increased levels, making your horse more vulnerable to ulcer formation.  In terms of side effects, although there are no studies, Omeprazole may in rare cases lead to malnutrition because stomach acid is necessary to start protein digestion and absorption of key minerals.

Treating EGUS with the horse ulcer treatment omeprazole custom prepared by a pharmacist is expected to lead to a significant reduction in stomach pain for your horse and preventing ulcers is an important factor in helping with training issues.