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Gastric Ulcers in Horses: Injectable Treatment in DevelopmentBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · April 26, 2017

The effects of equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) keep many horses from performing their best. Greater awareness of this has led horse owners to be more conscientious of management practices that optimize gastric health, including the use of FDA-approved treatments such as omeprazole and research-based nutritional supplements such as Rite-Trac.

A buildup of acid that is not buffered by saliva and feedstuffs can cause the development of gastric ulcers in horses which, in turn, can account for many roadblocks to well-being, such as inappetence, weight loss, dull coat, and sour disposition. A recent study* in Australia has suggested that a long-acting, intramuscular formulation of omeprazole (LA-OMEP) may suppress gastric acid for up to a week after administration.

Using 26 mature Thoroughbreds with known squamous and/or glandular gastric ulcers based on endoscopic examination, researchers administered 2 g of LA-OMEP (100 mg/ml) by intramuscular injection on day 0 and then again on day 7. Gastroscopy was performed on day 14 to determine the efficacy of LA-OMEP.

Gastroscopy revealed healing in all horses with squamous disease and 75% of horses with glandular disease, though improvement was noted in all lesions by at least one grade. No lesions in any of the horses appeared worse after treatment.

The researchers noted that the small sample size was a limiting factor in the study, but concluded that “the results of the present study compare favorably for the clinical outcomes of trials reporting the response to oral omeprazole therapy.”

“While injectable omeprazole is not yet available to horse owners, well-researched nutritional supplements, such as Rite-Trac, may stave off development of ulcers,” said Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a nutrition advisor for Kentucky Equine Research (KER).

RiteTrac is a proprietary blend of ingredients designed to support total digestive tract health. Targeted to benefit the stomach and the hindgut of the horse, RiteTrac works in two distinct ways. First, with its combination of fast-acting antacids and coating agents, RiteTrac quickly neutralizes excess gastric acid, protecting the stomach lining and restoring the normal gastric environment. Second, RiteTrac contains EquiShure, a time-released hindgut buffer designed to act in the cecum and colon by maintaining optimal pH, thereby reducing the risk of hindgut acidosis.

For horse owners in Australia, look for these effective products.

*Sykes, B.W., K. Kathawala, Y. Song, S. Garg, S.W. Page, C. Underwood, and P.C. Mills. 2017. Preliminary investigations into the novel, long-acting, injectable, intramuscular formulation of omeprazole in the horse. Equine Veterinary Journal. In press.