Equine supplements targeted towards ulcer prevention are on the rise, but not all products are created equal.

According to a survey of horse owners, a diagnosis of Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome is one of the most common reasons to modify a horse’s diet. [3]

Dietary management for horses with ulcers can include increasing forage and decreasing grain, as well as providing supplements that support a healthy digestive tract.

While there are many safe and natural ingredients that can support the healing of the gastrointestinal tract, some purported anti-ulcer supplements lack research to validate their efficacy.

Other ingredients (like antacid supplements for horses) will only temporarily mask the effects of ulcers while working against the horse’s natural physiology.

These supplements can interfere with digestive processes and are more likely to be associated with acid rebound and recurrence of ulcers.

Up to 90% of horses develop ulcers. [1][2] While ulcers are most prevalent in endurance and performance horses, all horses can be affected.

If you suspect your horse has ulcers, consult with a veterinarian to understand your treatment options before adding supplements to your horse’s diet.

Gastric ulcers are a pain in the GUT. Choosing a supplement for them doesn’t have to be!

Here we review the top 16 most popular supplements currently available to reduce the risk of ulcers and improve overall gut health in your horse.

 

Quiz: Assess Your Horse's Ulcer Risk

An Overview of Equine Ulcers

Equine ulcers are open sores or lesions that can develop throughout the gastrointestinal tract of your horse.

Ulcers most commonly occur in the stomach, hence the name gastric ulcers. The upper squamous region of the stomach is most at risk of ulceration. [1]

This area has the greatest exposure to stomach acids and lacks the defenses present in other parts of the stomach.

Mucous and bicarbonate produced in the glandular region of the stomach act as a buffer to the acidic environment.

The squamous region cannot produce mucous and does not have a similar defensive strategy. Instead, the squamous region relies on food and saliva to form a buffer against acids.

Medications for Ulcer Treatment

Drug therapies are commonly used to treat equine ulcers. Available drugs include omeprazole, ranitidine, and cimetidine.

These drug therapies can be effective for treating ulcers, although they are not without side effects. [4]

Drug therapies act to inhibit the secretion of gastric acids. Reducing acid secretion can increase stomach pH and allows the ulcers to heal.

However, ulcer rebound after treatment with drug therapies is common in horses. Once treatment stops, the stomach responds with an over-production of acid.

This phenomenon is known as rebound acid hypersecretion (RAH) and it results in an unnaturally low pH. This highly acidic environment can cause new ulcers to form. [5]

Natural Supplements

Given the risk of rebound and side effects with medications commonly prescribed to treat gastric ulcers, many horse owners seek natural alternatives.

Supplements for equine ulcers can work in different ways that may be beneficial in preventing ulcers. When supplemented alongside treatments with drugs, they may also function to minimize ulcer rebound.

Here we provide a summary of the purported mechanisms of action of 16 popular supplements for equine ulcers. We also rate the efficacy of these supplements based on the current research and available clinical trials.

As always, it is recommended to consult with an equine nutritionist before making dietary changes. Mad Barn offers a complementary evaluation and individualized recommendations for your horse when you submit your horse’s diet online.

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Top 16 Supplements for Stomach Health in Horses

1) Visceral+

Visceral+ was developed in conjunction with equine veterinarians who were frustrated with the frequency of ulcer rebound when using conventional drug therapies.

They saw a need for a supplement to help horses being treated with GastroGard (omeprazole) and UlcerGard to minimize the risk of relapse post-treatment.

Visceral+ is designed to support the function of the immune system and maintain stomach and hindgut health.