Stomach ulcers are a major veterinary health concern throughout the entire equestrian sport community, as two thirds of competition horses suffer from them, and the Merial equine health team made gastric health a priority in their presentations at the 2016 Midwest Horse Fair.
Dr. Andy Bennett, DVM, Veterinary Services Manager for Merial, sat down with AgWired during the Horse Fair to discuss Merial’s long standing efforts in the development of stomach ulcer treatments, explain the current options available today, and highlight important health information for competition horse owners and trainers.
Ulcers are sores that develop from excess stomach acid, sometimes developing in as little as five days after a stressful change to a horse’s environment. Their development can be stimulated from incredibly subtle changes and stressors, including transportation to and from competitions and small changes to diet and exercise programs. If left untreated, ulcers can significantly impact a horse’s show ring performance, cause long term damage to the stomach, and, in extremely severe cases, can be fatal.
“If you look at the Thoroughbreds and eventing horses, the incidence of ulcers can be as high as ninety percent. The cutting and reining horses may average down in the forty to fifty percent range, but the prevalence throughout all breeds is approximately 66 percent,” said Dr. Bennett. “So two out of three horses have some degree of gastric ulceration.”
Merial has developed Gastrogard, a treatment for stomach ulcers that have already developed, as well as Ulcergard, which can be administered during competitions to help delay ulcer development. Both products are extremely effective and allow horses to remain in training during treatment.
“The thing is, ulcers can return once medication has stopped, and what we do is provide the optimum ability to get the active ingredient through the stomach acid and absorbed into the small intestine to where it can be effective at decreasing acid production and keeping the environment of the stomach at the appropriate pH level,” said Dr. Bennett.
Listen to my full interview with Dr. Bennett here:
Interview with Dr. Andy Bennett, DVM, Merial