Could It Be EGUS?

An ulcer preventive may help avert mystery illnesses for your horse.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Merial

Maybe it’s a recurring case of colic or a prolonged dullhair coat.1While horse owners across the country have puzzled over mysterious signs of illness, the answer could be a complex problem that is often overlooked: Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS).

In fact, a recent survey showed that many horse owners do not recognize common signs of EGUS - potentially leaving horses out of the winner’s circle and even in pain.2

“Some horses will show multiple signs of stomach ulcers, while others might show just one sign,” says Dr. April Knudson, manager of Merial Veterinary Services. “It’s common for horses with stomach ulcers to endure mild colic, poor hair coat, inadequate body condition or substandard performance, as well as the more well-known signs of decreased appetite and poor behavior.”1

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In the survey, 82 percent of horse owners associated reduced appetite with a sign of equine stomach ulcers. But only 56 percent associated recurrent colic with the disease.2 In addition, only half of those surveyed associated diarrhea as a sign of equine stomach ulcers, and just 49 percent thought a poor hair coat could indicate the presence of EGUS.2

Dr. Knudson says that even well-cared-for horses can develop EGUS. Nearly all breeds and disciplines have been identified with stomach ulcers.3 In fact, the disease can be quite common. Research has shown that 63 percent of nonracing competitive horses have stomach ulcers.4

“Horse owners should be aware of all the signs of stomach ulcers so they can ask their veterinarian about healing and preventing ulcers before the problem can interrupt their training or impede their level of competition,” Dr. Knudson says. “Horse owners can get ahead of potential health challenges by preventing stomach ulcers before they even start. The key is to recognize potentially stressful situations and look for a safe, FDA-approved product that will work as expected.”

The things humans consider stressful can differ from horses, Dr. Knudson cautions. Survey results show that fewer than 45 percent of horse owners believed hospitalization, training, weaning or exercising could be stressful enough to trigger EGUS.2

Veterinarians and researchers have found that everyday activities such as training, competition, stall confinement, trailering and lay-up due to injury can be stressful enough to lead to equine stomach ulcers.1,6 These common activities are almost impossible to avoid for competitive horses, and without preventive treatment, stomach ulcers are likely to develop.

There is a reliable product to prevent ulcers if horses are about to go into training or travel to a competition, Dr. Knudson says. Ulcergard (omeprazole) is the only product that works to prevent equine stomach ulcers. At about $10 a day, Ulcergard has been proven effective in preventing stomach ulcers when used during stressful situations.*6

“Horses have sensitive gastrointestinal systems and any stressful activity can trigger gastric ulcer development,” Dr. Knudson says. “Using an FDA-approved preventive is an easy way to help avoid mystery illnesses and keep horses competing at their best.”

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*When treated for eight or 28 days, Ulcergard is proven to effectively prevent stomach ulcers in horses exposed to stressful conditions.

Ulcergard can be used in horses that weigh at least 600 pounds. Safety in pregnant mares has not been determined.

1Equine Gastric Ulcer Council. Recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS). Equine Vet Educ 1999;11:262-272.

2Data on file (Merial marketing research).

32008 scoping event results. Data on file at Merial.

4Mitchell RD. Prevalence of gastric ulcers in hunter/jumper and dressage horses evaluated for poor performance. Association for Equine Sports Medicine. September 2001.

5Murray MJ. Disorders of the stomach. In: Smith BP, ed. Large Animal Internal Medicine. St. Louis: CV Mosby; 1990:710-717.

6Ulcergard product label.

®Ulcergard is a registered trademark of the AstraZeneca Group of Companies. ©2009 Merial Limited. Duluth, Georgia. All rights reserved. EQUIUGD965(09/09)