Last summer, I posted an article on gastric ulcers in horses (CLICK HERE to read it). And in that article, I said, “If you want to use GastroGard®, you probably don’t have to use the whole tube. There’s no question that full tube treatment is effective BUT a half tube seems to work just as well, and maybe even quarter tube is just as good. Maybe less. If you look at the literature, doses are all over the board. Veterinary medicine needs to study this more.”
And the results are important, because they’re going to save you a LOT of money.
Researchers in Australia and the UK have just published a study showing that 1/4 of a tube of the paste that’s most commonly prescribed for the treatment of ulcers works just as well as a full tube dose (CLICK HERE to see the study). The researchers looked at 60 Thoroughbred racehorses (they horses that typically have LOTS of ulcer problems) and found that, when it came to healing ulcers, 1/4 of a tube worked as well as 1/2 a tube, which worked as well as a full tube. They checked 28 days after treatment. The lower dose works just great.
It seems that there are two types of ulcers in the horse’s stomach. There are ulcers that occur in the glandular region (the region that makes stomach acid) and there are those in the sqamous (non-glandular) region. All ulcers in the non-glandular region healed just fine at all doses, however, a good number (36%) of the ulcers in the glandular region actually got worse during treatment. That means that the medication doesn’t work well for some ulcers, and, it implies that some horses aren’t going to respond well to treatment with omeprazole treatment (omeprazole is the generic name for the drug).
I’m usually not one to jump on the bandwagon of every new study, but I think that this one is pretty important for a couple of reasons. First, it does confirm something that has been seen before, that is, good healing of ulcers has been reported at these lower doses in other studies. And second, it makes sense because of how the drug works.
Omeprazole is absorbed into the horse’s system, and it binds to the acid-secreting cells of the stomach (they’re called parietal cells, if you must know). As long as the cells don’t get replaced (they eventually do, as part of normal body cell turnover), the omeprazole keeps them from secreting acid. So there’s not really any reason to think that it should be necessary to keep bombing the horse’s system with a high dose of medication, when a lower should be able to get in and shut things down just as well.
The researchers are apparently going to do more research, to see if even lower doses are effective. But until then, I think that you can treat your horse very effectively – and save a LOT of money – by only giving your horse 1/4 tube of omeprazole paste.
*** CLICK HERE if you want to read all about Nostradamus. I do not claim to be him, although I will confess to being tickled at the results of this study.