Ulcers Confirmed

Yesterday June went in to have a gastric scope done and see if ulcers were in fact the culprit. She was not happy about having been fasted, which I found ironic, considering the hunger strike she’s been on.

I’ve never seen a horse have a gastric scoping, and while I would have preferred to have seen one done on someone else’s horse, it was still really interesting.

I’m smiling as dolla dolla bills come flying out of my wallet…

June was sedated for the scoping and once she was sufficiently sleepy, a tube with a camera on the end was placed into her nose. The tube was snaked along until it entered her stomach. At this point, air was pumped into her stomach, making the lining nice and taught, so the veterinarian could get a better view of what things looked like.

At first, things looked really good. But then the scope was snaked a little further, and we could view the opening of the small intestine. Apparently this is where ulcers like to hide. And, we found some!

See the white line at the bottom right of the picture? That should be nice and smooth. The jagged edges are indicative of an ulcer, as is the redness in her stomach lining

The veterinarian considered them mild to moderate, but in my mind, an ulcer is an ulcer. You either have them or you don’t, and if you have them, they need to be treated. So, we’ll continue the Gastroguard regiment for 28 days and see how she’s feeling.

We spent quite a while talking about management as well as how to move forward. My veterinarian felt June had experienced quite a few changes lately, so it wasn’t totally surprising that she developed ulcers. In her opinion, the best thing we can do is give her a chance to be continually eating. She said she wanted June to have the opportunity to eat for 20 of the 24 hours in a day. Wow. Now, I know I’ve mentioned that my horses growing up would do this. But that’s the joy of having horses at home. You can control things like that. It’s far more difficult when you are at a boarding facility.

A drunk June loves Sarah

So, I’ve begun researching slow feeders in earnest. And have a few ideas on which path I want to take. (But would love any yays or nays for those of you with experience with certain ones). We’ve added alfalfa to June’s diet which has shown to help ulcers and I’ll be adding a feed that also helps prevent ulcers. When she travels and is at shows she will get Ulcerguard. Hopefully, with some good management we can keep this from happening again.

Such captivating images of her stomach!

I lunged her today per my veterinarian’s recommendation to exercise her lightly and she seemed to feel good. She ate quite a bit post vet appt and seems to have a bit of an appetite back, so hopefully her meds are helping.

I’m hopeful we can get back to a consistent routine soon, and also hope our new management routine will be good for her long term!

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39 thoughts on “Ulcers Confirmed

  1. Glad you have got definitive answers and a plan of action for June. Thank you for the photographs aswell, very interesting! I have little experience with ulcers or their treatment, but I’m curious, what were her symptoms? Anything other than going off her feed? I have a little three year old mare who is not as enthusiastic for her hayledge as she has been!

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  2. Terry Bauman says:

    GastroGard is great. June will soon feel better, not to worry. My Paj had ulcers too, so I’ve been using the small bale hay nets from Hay Chix for about a year. Love them.
    https://haychix.com/collections/square-bale/products/hay-chix-small-bale-net?variant=45909817799
    The mesh comes in 3 sizes, so our elder horses with worn teeth get the full size mesh. Paj, ironically, is an easy keeper, so he has a smaller mesh. We hang them high on the stall wall. I’ll be happy to send pictures if you like, just send me your email.
    A word about GastroGard – I use it for stressful situations like travel, but I also use it for big changes in the weather, or any big change in lifestyle. For instance, if my delicate flower has to stay indoors due to weather, he’s going to get GastroGard. Yes, it’s expensive, but not as expensive as a vet call.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Answers and a plan of action are so relieving to have. I hope she feels better soon. Endurance had gastroguard and ulcerguard in the banned substance list for years. I think they finally allowed it towards the end of my competition time in the sport a few years ago. Since endurance puts horses at high risk for ulcers (long distance travel and long periods of work without access to food) people researched the crap out of alternative options. The most prolific and respected endurance research vet backed the use of pro cmc as an ulcer prevention. https://www.statelinetack.com/item/absorbine-pro-cmc-gastric-relief-formula/SLT901303/?srccode=GPSLT&gclid=CjwKCAiA0ajgBRA4EiwA9gFORyuBR2LxC3X_AYxqFGxAxeYcy83c0Qlv43bMP3uidUHwI7Rs9PDM-RoCaFUQAvD_BwE

    I’ve not personally used it but it’s something worth maybe looking into as you research your options.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nadsnovik says:

      Wow, why would it be a banned substance? That’s interesting. I’ll look into the other option, thanks. Although I have yet to find a vet who recommends anything but omeprazole. Some meds work but require more frequent doses which for me isn’t realistic as I can’t go to the barn 4 times a day…

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  4. Sorry you are going through this expensive ordeal but glad you caught onto it pretty quickly.

    I recently got Phoenix a porta grazer (the XL one) for his stall and I can recommend it whole heartedly. Easier to fill than a hay net and safer too. There is a $25 off code out there if you search – it’s not much but better than nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Emily says:

    Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. The positive news? June is not a “jerk”, and you now know her signs of being uncomfortable from ulcers. Yay?

    I am firmly in the camp that it is better to have real answers and a plan than to just keep taking stabs in the dark.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well, the good news is that you have a plan and it’s treatable! I’m definitely for having answers and making a plan. And thanks for the pictures! I haven’t had much experience with ulcers (knock on wood), so it’s good to know what it looks like! I’m glad she’s already starting to feel better!

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  7. Amanda C says:

    Sorry to hear this but glad you got some answers and have a plan! I live this life as well, with the slow feed net and the alfalfa and the preventative doses of omeprazole during big life changes. I swear I think pretty much all riding/show horses need that. It’s a stressful life.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. L. Williams says:

    Ugh yeah I know what you mean about “curious but please on someone else’s horse” Glad that you’ve got a great plan moving forward for June bug.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. emma says:

    good luck with the plan moving forward – definitely let us know what seems to be working for you!! if possible i’d suggest experimenting with different slow feeders. at charlie’s last barn he didn’t love their hay all that much, and sometimes the frustration of dealing with a net on top of that would make him not even bother. which is…. obviously counter productive. these days i often give him a mix of hay in the net (to make it last) and hay on the floor (to keep him eating when he’s annoyed with the net).

    with isabel i tried all manner of things too (she was always kinda moderately ulcery). i basically as a rule just planned to treat her twice a year using less expensive options (like the abler products – pop rocks etc), and then in between had her on dietary supplements including alfalfa, aloe juice (not sure it worked but it was cheap so why not), and calcium carbonate + magnesium oxide products. good luck!!

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    • nadsnovik says:

      Yeah, the one thing that is easy about living in Idaho is that our hay is amazing. It’s so green and is the nicest hay I have EVER seen. So, horses devour it. I’m lucky in that so far she is eating well out of the hay net. But I agree- I may need a couple options…

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    • emma says:

      ooooh and ranitidine too has been highly recommended. same stuff you can buy in bulk at costco for people, just like…. a lot more haha. from what i’ve understood, it’s not really advisable to have a horse on omeprazole (an inhibitor) long term, but other supplements like ranitidine (a blocker) are safer daily options for maintenance.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Glad you have answers!
    No help on the supplement stuff, but it seems like a lot of other bloggers were able to help with that 🙂 Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ulcers are an absolute pain and something I have had to deal with for the majority of this year.

    Not fun and alot of sympathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Liz says:

    So glad you have answers and multiple paths forward to treat/manage. I’m interested to hear about your slow feeder research!

    Liked by 1 person

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