UlcerGard Vs. GastroGard

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

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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.

UlcerGard and Gastrogard Similarities

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

UlcerGard and Gastrogard - Oral Paste for Horses

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.  

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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.  

Conclusion

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!

FAQs

Does Ulcergard treat ulcers in horses?

Omeprazole is the generic name for the active ingredient in Ulcergard. Ulcergard is a combination of two drugs: Omeprazole and Sucralfate. Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor. It prevents acid from being produced in the stomach. Sucralfate is a drug that works to heal ulcers in the stomach. Together they make Ulcergard a very effective treatment for gastric ulcers.
Why is it important to treat gastric ulcers? Gastric ulcers are painful, and sometimes bloody. They can also lead to colic, diarrhea, and weight loss. Horses that have ulcers in their stomachs often vomit and may have abdominal pain and diarrhea. Some horses may lose weight and become dehydrated. Therefore it's important for horse owners to be aware of this condition and take precautions to prevent its development.

How quickly does Ulcergard work?

The ulcer heals by lowering the acid in the stomach. The first sign of improvement usually happens after the third day of treatment. In some cases, the ulcer may not heal until the fourth week of treatment. In most cases, Ulcergard is given once a day for 2-4 weeks.  But if a horse does not improve after 4 weeks of Ulcergard, it's time to seek veterinary care.
It's important to keep track of your horse's symptoms and to closely watch for any improvement. If you notice any improvement in your horse's symptoms, it's likely that Ulcergard is working and that your horse is healing.

How do you give a horse an Ulcergard?

The first thing you need to know is that Ulcergard should be given with food. Do not give it on an empty stomach. Give it at the same time every day. Give it with his meal or snacks. This will keep the levels of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) in his blood constant.
Ulcergard helps to keep your horse's stomach lining healthy and protect against ulcers. It can be mixed with hay, feed or water. Ulcergard is a  non prescription product, meaning you over the counter without a prescription from your veterinarian. Ulcergard is safe for horses of all ages. The product is also safe for horses with heart disease or liver problems.

Can ulcers in horses go away on their own?

If a horse has a gastric ulcer that is small and doesn't cause major symptoms, the ulcer can heal on its own. However, it's important to note that only 4 to 10 percent of equine ulcers heal without treatment. That's why you should be familiar with the signs of horse ulcers and pay attention if any of the symptoms appear. The best way to know whether a horse needs to be treated for ulcers is to look for signs of pain, fever, loss of appetite, depression, or weight loss.
Horses may get ulcers because of poor nutrition, stress, injury, or disease. Stress can cause an ulcer by increasing the amount of acid that's produced in the stomach. 

How do you treat ulcers in horses naturally?

Unquestionably, the best treatment for ulcers is prevention. However, if your horse has developed ulcers, it's important to keep him on a regular diet and give him plenty of water.
There are also several herbs that proved helpful in healing ulcers in horses. Comfrey leaf, marshmallows root, Liquorice, Meadowsweet and Slippery elm all show signs of mucilaginous properties, which aid in the treatment of symptoms of ulcers in horses. They help by coating the intestinal tract with a mucous layer over the stomach lining that discourages irritation and promotes healing. 

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