In the coming weeks, Merial will provide a series of columns from experienced veterinarians. These columns are based on questions Merial receives every day from horse owners across the country. Chances are, you or someone you know has the same question, such as:

QUESTION: Do certain horses have a higher risk of developing stomach ulcers than others?

ANSWER: No matter what breed or discipline — all horses can be at risk for stomach ulcers. Gastroscopy of horses across the country has shown that stomach ulcers are found in nearly all breeds and disciplines of horses.1


A wide variety of breeds are susceptible to stomach ulcers because horses in general are very sensitive to stress. Additionally, a horse’s stomach can produce up to 16 gallons of acidic fluid every day.2 Stomach acid, coupled with environmental stresses, like training or limited turnout, can cause acid to build up in a horse’s stomach leading to stomach ulcers.3


In fact, stomach ulcers have been found in up to 93 percent of racehorses,4 63 percent of nonracing competitive horses5 and 75 percent of nonpregnant broodmares.6


Many horse owners think horses ridden a few times a year are not at risk for stomach ulcers because they don’t necessarily encounter risk factors like training or competition regularly. However, research has shown that stomach ulcers can develop in horses quickly — sometimes in as little as five days.7


On the other hand, horses likely don’t become accustomed to the lifestyle of a competitor either. Events that many horse owners consider routine — including trailering, training and stall confinement — can contribute to the development of stomach ulcers.3


Eliminating the stress from your horse’s everyday activities can be difficult. To help prevent stomach ulcers, consider using ULCERGARD® (omeprazole) the next time your horse may be exposed to a stressful situation. ULCERGARD is the only FDA-approved product for the prevention of stomach ulcers. Just one daily dose has been proven effective in preventing stomach ulcers over both short and long periods of time.*, 3 ULCERGARD works by inhibiting the acid production at the acid pump, effectively preventing stomach ulcers before they become a problem.


All horses produce acid around the clock, no matter what breed or discipline of horse, which may put them at risk for stomach ulcers. To keep your horse feeling and working at its best, ask your veterinarian about ULCERGARD.


Dr. Knudson specializes in equine health care and has a special interest in sport horse lameness and internal medicine. She holds a doctorate of veterinary medicine from the University of California-Davis.


*When treated for 8 to 28 days, ULCERGARD is proven to effectively prevent stomach ulcers in horses exposed to stressful conditions.


ULCERGARD® (omeprazole) can be used in horses that weigh at least 600 pounds. The effectiveness of ULCERGARD in the prevention of gastric ulcers in foals and weanlings has not been evaluated. ULCERGARD may be used safely in breeding stallions. Safety in pregnant mares has not been determined.


®ULCERGARD is a registered trademark of the AstraZeneca Group of Companies. ©2009 Merial Limited. Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQUIUGD943 (4/09).


1ULCERGARD scoping event results. Data on file at Merial.

2Kitchen DL, Merritt AM, Burrow JA. Histamine-induced gastric acid secretion in horses. AJVR 1998;59(10):1303-1306.

3ULCERGARD product label.

4Murray MJ, Schusser GF, Pipers FS, Gross SJ. Factors associated with gastric lesions in Thoroughbred racehorses. Equine Vet J 1996;28:368-374.

5Mitchell RD. Prevalence of gastric ulcers in hunter/jumper and dressage horses evaluated for poor performance. Association for Equine Sports Medicine, September 2001.

6le Jeune SS, Nieto JE, Dechant JE, Snyder JR. Prevalence of gastric ulcers in Thoroughbred broodmares in pasture: A preliminary report. The Veterinary Journal (2008). doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2008.03.020

7McClure SR, Carithers DS, Gross SJ, Murray MJ. Gastric ulcer development in horses in a simulated show or training environment. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227(5):775-777.



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