UlcerGard vs. GastroGard – Studies show that 60-90% of horses will suffer from gastric ulcers at some point in their lives. Horses can develop ulcers in the same way that humans can; from increased stress, change, and overall uneasiness. There are two FDA approved medications for gastric ulcers in horses, and these are GastroGard and UlcerGard. In this article, I will discuss what the differences between the two are, and when it is best to use each to treat your horse’s ulcers.
UlcerGard and Gastrogard Similarities
GastroGard and UlcerGard both contain the same primary ingredient: omeprazole. They are both manufactured by Merial Ltd. Both are FDA approved omeprazole pastes for horses. Both are intended to be taken by horses that have had gastric ulcers, so what is the difference?
GastroGard and UlcerGard differ in two primary ways; their purpose and their availability. GastroGard is a medication that must be prescribed to you by your vet. You cannot get it “over the counter” or at a local farm supply store. The only way to get that prescription is to have your horse checked by your vet and tested positive for gastric ulcers.
This process is called a gastroscopy and involves a camera and tube being sent down your horse’s nose, esophagus, and throat. The camera then travels into their stomach and takes videos to see whether ulcers are present or not. This can be quite uncomfortable for your horse and expensive for you.
But some horse owners feel it is necessary to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their horses have ulcers before treating them for ulcers. A gastroscopy can do this, and show the extent to which the ulcers have grown.
If the gastroscopy does show that your horse has ulcers, your vet will then prescribe GastroGard for your horse. This is the only way you can get GastroGard. It will be prescribed for your horse to take for about a month, with the horse getting a tube a day. The technical measurement for this is 1.8 mg per pound that your horse weighs every day. But, for most normal-sized horses, this will be a tube of GastroGard a day.
GastroGard provides your horse with large doses of highly concentrated omeprazole. GastroGard’s omeprazole is more concentrated than the omeprazole in UlcerGard, and it is used to treat ulcers a horse already has. The horse will receive high amounts of omeprazole in a compact amount of time. Once treated with GastroGard for about a month, the horse’s ulcers should be treated and gone.
UlcerGard is a bit easier for you to get your hands on. UlcerGard can be purchased from your local Tractor Supply or Farm and Family. Most tack stores sell it, and it can be purchased from most online equine shops.
As stated before, UlcerGard is manufactured by the same company as GastroGard, and both are FDA approved omeprazole paste for horses. But, you don’t need a vet to prescribe UlcerGard for you to get it for your horse. This is primarily because the function of UlcerGard is different from the function of GastroGard.
While GastroGard serves to heal and treat horses that currently have ulcers, UlcerGard serves as a preventative for horses at risk of developing ulcers. UlcerGard isn’t used every day for a month like GastroGard. It is used whenever your horse is at risk of being in a stressful situation, or a situation where he might be nervous.
Ulcers In Horses
Some common situations that cause ulcers in horses are travel and competition, lack of turnout, change of living space, and intense training. If you know your horse is prone to ulcers and will be experiencing any of these situations, you may choose to put him on UlcerGard for their duration.
Some breeds of horses are also more prone to ulcers than others. The most well-known breed to get ulcers is Thoroughbreds. Thoroughbreds often develop ulcers during their younger years on the racetrack when they move around frequently from track to track and are subject to intense training. Young racehorses also change hands owners frequently and so their living situations are always changing. Thus, Thoroughbreds are very susceptible to ulcers.
For example, I own a thoroughbred that had ulcers when I bought him. I didn’t know he had ulcers when I bought him, but it became clear as he showed many symptoms as time went on. He was treated with concentrated omeprazole (i.e.-GastroGard) for about a month and then was switched over to UlcerGard for a few weeks.
Today, he only gets UlcerGard when I know he is going to be in a stressful situation. He gets a dose every day he is traveling at a horse show, and he gets a dose every day he is stuck inside with no turnout due to weather. Thankfully, UlcerGard does its job, as he has stayed happy and ulcer-free since he has been on it!
UlcerGard can be purchased here at Amazon.
UlcerGard Vs. GastroGard Differences
So, to recap, UlcerGard and GastroGard serve different purposes. GastroGard heals pre-existent ulcers, and UlcerGard calms the stomach to prevent the formation of ulcers during stressful situations. GastroGard is a higher concentration of omeprazole given in high dosages every day for a month, while UlcerGard is given circumstantially and subjectively.
Over half of all horses will experience ulcers at some time in their lives. Knowing when and how to treat these ulcers is the best way to ensure that your horse will stay happy and healthy in the long run. I hope this article helped you understand the similarities and differences between GastroGard and UlcerGard. Please share this article and share your own experiences with UlcerGard Vs. GastroGard!