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How to Inexpensively Treat Horse Ulcers
By Tracy Stevens
Disclaimer: The following are products and instructions on how we successfully treated a horse’s ulcers. These products may or may not work for your horse, but they did work for one of the horses living at our farm. People are amazed at the change in him, both with weight gain and his attitude.
Please know that I am not a licensed veterinarian, and I am not saying that anyone should not consult their veterinarian concerning their horse’s health. This is what I did after consulting 3 equine veterinarians and being told that we would have to put the horse on a very expensive treatment, over $700 .00 per month.
Because the horse had lost over 100 lbs during the stressful time when the ulcers began, we did start out with AbPrazole™ (Omeprazole), which is the only drug made to heal gastric horse ulcers that is not outrageously expensive. You can also use some acid reducing medications, like Ranitidine, and regular horse supplements, but it takes a lot longer for them to work, and it is uncertain if they heal ulcers or just reduce the acid so the horse is comfortable.
After a while, we weaned the horse off of them and put him on 3 natural and inexpensive products that he will probably remain on for the rest of his life. One of the vets that we consulted was so amazed at the difference, that he is now prescribing the medication we used, Omeprazole, for any horse that he suspects may have ulcers.
General recommendations I found when researching feeding horses with ulcers: When I did research, I found that many people were recommending to only feed some kind of quality pelleted feed, not a molasses-based feed like sweet feed. If your ulcer horse is on a molasses-based feed, I would HIGHLY recommend slowly changing the feed to the non-molasses-based feed of your choice. I also read that many people were using alfalfa pellets and having success, but my horse did not readily eat them like he did regular pelleted feeds.
At the beginning of treating him with the products listed below, I used several bags of Alfalfa Pellets by mixing 1/2 scoop with 1/2 scoop of regular pellets at each feeding. He seemed to eat the alfalfa pellets better when they were mixed versus when they were not. I now feed him 8 cups of Alfalfa Cubes mixed with 6 cups of Beet Pulp at each feeding. I soak the mixture with twice as much water for two hours before feeding. In the Winter months, I use hot water to soak the feed, which gives a nice warm meal for those really cold evenings in the NC mountains.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I usually change my horse very slowly to another feed as is standard with most horse feeding practices. It usually takes me two to three weeks to totally switch a horse over to another kind of feed, but then again I always do things on the safe side, since my horse has had issues with his digestion.
Along with the Beet Pulp and Alfalfa Cube mixture, I always give quality grass hay or turnout on quality grazing pastures. To me the bottom line is that horses are grazing animals and are meant to graze from 16 to 18 hours a day.
I found AbPrazole™ to be the least expensive Omeprazole for the treatment and prevention of equine gastric ulcers. You can also get this without a prescription! It comes in in easy-to-measure, easy-to-feed once-a-day dosages of flavorless, blue, enteric coated granules, or you can get Omeprazole in a once a day tablet form. tablets go by weight, so for a 700 to 900 lb horse it is two tablets a day which is less than $3.00 a day, which is way less than the estimated $700.00 per month that Ulcer Guard would have cost me for my horse.
Omeprazole is from the family of proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) that blocks secretion of acid and assists by reducing and neutralizing acid in the horse’s stomach allowing improved healing of existing ulcer damage. Click the following link to check out the best prices on I have found for Omeprazole specifically made for horses: INEXPENSIVE HORSE ULCER OMEPRAZOLE
NIBBLENET® SLOW FEED HAY BAG by Thin Air Canvas, Inc.
And speaking of hay, another EXCELLENT hay saving product to use for ulcer horses is a Nibblenet. I was told by a vet who specializes in horse ulcer treatment to make sure to have a slow feeder hay bag in front of my horse all the time, This is because of the amount of acid produced in a horse’s stomach–up to 16 GALLONS a day! I purchased a slow feeder hay bag at Tractor Supply, but sadly within an hour my horse tore torn it in half! So I did some research to find the best and most indestructible hay bag for the money, and found that the NibbleNet is worth EVERY PENNY. I bought it on Amazon, and I also signed up for Amazon Smile so for everything I purchase, a donation is automatically sent from Amazon to one of the horse rescues our Bolero Gaited Horse Adoption Network works with, and I chose Spirit Run Equine Rescue. You can click on the link below to see more information on the Nibblenet I bought that is working great and slow feeds my horse all day: The Original NibbleNet® 12″XL deep w/ 1.5″ Slow Feed Hay Bag by Thin Air Canvas, Inc.
To Reduce Acid
FROM SAMS CLUB, Ranitidine Acid Reducer:
I did research online and found several people who were using Ranitidine as a general acid reducer with their horses quite successfully. This is the information I compiled from my research on dosing. Horses with ulcers and owners on a budget, can use Ranitidine. It’s very inexpensive and available at many department stores. You can get Ranitidine at Sams Club. For 190 150 mg pills it’s around $9.00.
The healing dosage rate rate for horses is 6.6mg/kg every 8 hours. For my 750 LB horse, I gave 13 150 mg pills 3X a day 4 weeks. I started him on U-Gard at this time along with 13 pills 2X a day for 2 weeks, and then slowly weaned him off with a lesser dosage twice a day after that and put him on U-Gard, along with the Milk Thistle and ProBios.
People are amazed at the difference this combination has made with my horse. During the first four weeks he gained over 50 lbs, and he is much more calmer and happy.
FROM THE HEALING BARN, Milk Thistle Plus:
This product was used to clear out the horse’s liver. He had been on a heavy dose of antibiotics because he had developed a open sore on his tongue from either a briar in the hay or, more than likely, some kind of acid reflux.
We ordered the Milk Thistle Plus 4 LB bag on July 5th, and it got to me around 4 days later, so I would say I started it approx 5 to 6 days after beginning Ranitidine around July 10th.
I went by the directions on the bag, and fed until it was gone. The 4 LB bag lasted over a month, and from what I’ve been told, this will not hurt a horse at all. I would recommend using this, as it is supportive for the liver and kidneys while you are using the Ranitidine.
FROM STATE LINE TACK, Pro BIOS:
Pro BIOS is a heavy duty probiotic, very important in helping the gut to maintain natural organisms for digestion. It contains Lactic Acid Bacteria (Enterococcus Faecium, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus Casei)
I ordered the Pro BIOS on July 5th, and it got to me around 7 days later, so I would say I started it approx 7 to 8 days after beginning Ranitidine around July 13th.
I went by the directions on the bag, and fed until it was gone. The bag is supposed to last for 160 days, but we fed 1 and a half times the dose, because we were loading his gut. From what I’ve been told, this will not hurt a horse at all. Just keep a watch on the manure, if it gets watery, cut back on this. Too much can give them diarrhea. NOTE: After I finished the Pro BIOS, I put my horse on Fast Track Pro Biotic PAC, which I already had quite a bit of it, but I will probably go back to the Pro BIOS when the Fast Trac is gone. I will be keeping him on some kind of probiotic for the rest of his life.
FROM STATE LINE TACK, CORTA-FLX® U-GARD:
I researched the best type of gastric ulcer supplement that wasn’t over-the-top expensive. From the excellent reviews on several different websites, I chose U-Gard Pellets and ordered a ten pound 80 day supply. From the product description:
Field trials show that U-GARD™ is highly effective on helping gastric ulcers that may be caused by the stress of training, competition, stall confinement and diets high in carbohydrates Contains Calcium and Magnesium – which aid in acid reduction Clinically proven to be effective in helping decrease the severity of gastric ulcers
To save on shipping, we ordered the U-Gard with the ProBios on July 5th. It got to us around 7 days later, but we didn’t start using it until 4 weeks later when we began weaning the horse off the Ranitidine.
We had been using Ranitidine 3 times a day, and went to twice a day along with the U-Gard and the ProBios and the Milk Thistle.
We went by the directions on the container, and fed the U-Gard until it was gone. The container lasted over 80 days.
Two More Natural Diets that help to heal ulcers:
Free choice grass hay 24/7
Medication: 1/4, 1/2, or full dose of generic Ranitidine or Omeprazole
Additional natural stomach healing foods, fed twice a day:
Pumpkin Seeds: 1/4 cup which are excellent for healing the stomach
Dried Cabbage: 1/4 cup of dried cabbage contains L-Glutamine which also heals the stomach
Oat Flour: 1/2 cup for 30 days and then 1/4 cup thereafter, which is great to heal the hind gut
Probiotics ProBios or Fast Track: 1 oz. which aids digestion
Ground Flax seeds: 1/2 cup
I mix the above products with:
4 cups of Standlee beet pulp pellets
8 cups of Alfalfa cubes
I soak the Beet Pulp pellets and Alfalfa Cubes together in water for 1 hour before mixing in the other ingredients and feeding. Follow manufacture’s instructions.
We began using the following combination of Aloe Vera and Slippery Elm approximately 2 to 3 weeks before the U-Gard ran out. We wanted to slowly wean him off the U-Gard and get him on something totally natural.
Slippery Elm helps to regulate bacteria in the intestine, and when combined with Aloe Juice it is also excellent for digestion in horses as well. These natural products can be used on most horses long-term with no negative effects. Both products are very inexpensive in comparison to other horse ulcer products.
The horse has continued to gain weight with this combination, along with a good probiotic, like ProBios, but if he ever starts loosing weight again, we will immediately put him back on U-Gard. If he really gets stressed and starts cribbing when he is eating, a sure sign that he is in pain in his gut, then we will temporarily put him back on Ranitidine for 2 to 3 weeks.
HOW TO USE THEM: Slippery Elm combined with Aloe Juice can be used as a natural treatment for horse ulcers. We use one to two teaspoons of Slippery Elm combined with two ounces of Aloe Juice, and put it in our horse’s feed two to three times daily
FROM MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS, Slippery Elm: You can purchase Organic Slippery Elm Bark Powder is sold in bulk at Mountain Rose Herbs Mountain Rose Herbs:
Fruit Of The Earth Aloe Vera Juice With 99.8% Aloe, 1 gal You can purchase Aloe Juice in the pharmacy department of your local Walmart. We use the organic kind,