Rood & Riddle internal medicine specialists Dr. Bonnie Barr, Dr. Peter Morresey and Dr. Steve Reed, along with Merial veterinarian Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, DACVS, will be on hand to perform gastroscopy exams and provide educational commentary to explain the procedure, exam results and educational information on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of gastric ulcers.
Owners purchasing GastroGard® at the event will receive a $5 per tube rebate coupon for every tube purchased up to 28 tubes. Standard treatment protocol for horses diagnosed with gastric ulcers is to administer GastroGard orally once daily for 28 days at the rate of one tube per 1,250 lbs. of body weight. Individual dosage and treatment recommendations are based on the horse’s body weight and severity of the ulcer.
Gastric ulcers are a common medical condition in horses and foals. Numerous publications have identified that up to 60 percent of show horses have ulcers and up to 90 percent of racehorses may develop gastric ulcers. There are many triggers for stomach ulcer development, and stress is an important factor. Horses may experience stress when exposed to situations that you might think of as normal routine such as training, travel, competition, shows or events or changes in routine such as lay-up due to sickness or injury.
Clinical signs associated with gastric ulcers are numerous and often vague. Typical symptoms include poor performance, poor hair coat, picky eating and colic. Oftentimes, diagnosis of gastric ulcers can be tricky because the signs can be subtle and easy to misinterpret. The gold standard of diagnosis is gastroscopy, which is visualization of the stomach with a 3-meter endoscope.
The primary goal of treatment is suppression of gastric acid, which creates an environment conducive for healing. The most commonly used product is omeprazole, which is available under the brand name GastroGard, the only FDA approved treatment. GastroGard is a paste given orally once a day for 28 days and gastric ulcers heal well. Omeprazole is also available in a lower dose product, UlcerGard, for use as a preventative against recurrence in horses with a history of ulcers or during times of stress.
Merial has conducted more than 160 gastroscopy events nationwide, with 60 percent of horses diagnosed with stomach ulcers. Throughout the year, 1,532 horses across the country participated in events. Overall, 922 horses from 37 states had some ulceration as identified by gastroscopy. Horses of varying ages and disciplines were found to have all grades of stomach ulcers, including:
- Horses from 2 months to 30 years of age
- 610 horses, or 40 percent, were Grade 0 (healthy, non-ulcerated stomach)
- 471 horses, or 31 percent, were Grade 1 (mild ulcers, with small lesions or damaged tissue)
- 319, or 21 percent, were Grade 2 (moderate ulcers with large lesions)
- 132, or 9 percent, were Grade 3 (extensive lesions with deep ulceration and bleeding)
- 86 percent of racing horses had some grade of ulcers (226 total participating)
- 59 percent of eventing horses (113 total participating)
- 59 percent of hunter jumpers (168 total participating)
- 52 percent of barrel racing horses (122 total participating)
- 48 percent of dressage (107 total participating)
Owners with horses that travel, compete, train or experience potentially stressful situations regularly are invited to participate in this gastroscopy event. The gastroscopy exams are by appointment, which can be scheduled with Whitney Mathes at (859) 233-0371 or by e-mail to [email protected].
Anyone interested in learning more about gastric ulcers in horses is welcome to attend the seminar at any time during the day. A horse is not required. Drs. Barr, Morresey and Reed will be available throughout the day to discuss gastric ulcers and answer questions.