When Something Just Isn’t Right with Your Horse

You know your horse, so if his behavior or appearance should suddenly change, even in subtle ways, you may recognize it. But what’s causing those changes?

You know your horse, so if his behavior or appearance should suddenly change, even in subtle ways, you may recognize it. But what’s causing those changes?

A few months after Prairie Village, Kan., resident Linda Powers purchased her new horse, Starched And Pressed, also known as Cosmo, she tried to figure him out.

“We took our time to get to know Cosmo,” Powers says of her AQHA-Appendix 10-year-old gelding. “We worked to figure out what feed and hay he liked, and what made him happy and what didn’t. He had lost a little weight, and we were doing everything we could to get him as healthy as possible.”

Coming to a Diagnosis 

A few months after purchasing the big bay gelding, Powers noticed he was growing long hair, despite the fact that it was late spring and all of the other horses in the barn had already shed their winter coats. He was still a little skinny, as well.

Thinking about Cosmo’s signs, Powers considered deworming. Horses with worms often have poor hair coats and poor body condition, the same signs that could also point to ulcers.These two common clinical signs have the potential to lead to a multitude of diagnoses, even beyond worms or ulcers.

Next, Powers contacted her veterinarian who tested him for parasites and ruled out other possible causes before determining he needed to be treated for stomach ulcers. The veterinarian based the diagnosis on recent changes in Cosmo’s life – moving to a new barn with a new owner – and signs of poor hair coat and poor body condition. “By that time, it was summer, and despite deworming, Cosmo still had a long hair coat,” Powers says.

To treat the suspected ulcers, her veterinarian recommended GASTROGARD (omeprazole), the only proven and FDA-approved ulcer product that effectively reduces acid, allowing the stomach to heal itself without removing the horse from training or competing.

“Right after our veterinarian made the recommendation, I found a podcast about ulcers and learned so much,” Powers says. “We started treatment right away.”

Powers thought it was interesting that prior to being diagnosed with ulcers, when Cosmo received regular chiropractic adjustments including palpation of points that could indicate stomach ulcers, the chiropractor thought Cosmo did not have ulcers. While chiropractic can be useful, gastroscopy is the only way to definitively diagnose and grade equine stomach ulcers.

Treatment and Prevention

After treatment with GASTROGARD, Powers worked with another veterinarian who performed a gastroscopic exam on Cosmo to determine the progress of his treatment and they were excited to hear his stomach showed no signs of ulcers.

Now that Powers knows Cosmo is prone to stomach ulcers, she works to prevent them. She gives Cosmo ULCERGARD (omeprazole) during periods of stress, such as training and trailering, as it is the only proven and FDA-approved prevention.

“We use a slow-feed hay net to mimic a more natural grazing situation,” Powers says. “With the veterinarian’s recommendations, we keep him on SmartGut Ultra Pellets and give him ULCERGARD anytime there’s a new horse in his paddock, every time we haul him and when we show.”

For deworming, Powers also has her veterinarian perform a fecal egg count test (FECT) in the spring and fall to determine a course of treatment, if needed.

Follow Veterinarian Recommendations

Powers says having the veterinarian perform a gastroscopy was of great value. She’s also thankful for other diagnostic tools, like the FECT. “Veterinarians have all of these tools in their toolbox; it’s so great that they can figure out what’s going on with your horse,” says Powers.

When it comes to deworming, according to the AAEP, establishing an effective parasite control program is ranked as one of the most important management practices next to supplying your horse with clean water and high-quality feed. Whether or not symptoms are evident, the AAEP guidelines recommend getting a FECT from a sample of fresh manure, which a veterinarian will then examine under a microscope before recommending a deworming program.

Parasite control means better overall horse health, so if parasites are present, the answer is to treat them with ZIMECTERIN Gold (ivermectin and praziquantel), the #1 selling broad-spectrum dewormer.

Some diseases present obvious clinical signs while others are harder to detect. Early intervention and treatment are the keys to keeping your horse healthy. This is why it is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice, “something just isn’t right.”

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

Caution: Safety of GASTROGARD in pregnant or lactating mares has not been determined.

ZIMECTERIN GOLD: Not for use in humans. Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children. In horses, there have been rare reports of swelling and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue following administration of ZIMECTERIN Gold. These reactions have been transitory in nature. Do not use in other animal species as severe adverse reactions, including fatalities in dogs, may result.

About Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health

On January 1st, 2017, Merial became part of the Boehringer Ingelheim group. As the second largest animal health business in the world, Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to making the industry even better at improving animal health. With more than 10,000 employees worldwide, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has products available in more than 150 markets and a global presence in 99 countries. For more information about Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, click here.

About Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, Boehringer Ingelheim operates presently with a total of some 50,000 employees worldwide. The focus of the family-owned company, founded in 1885, is on researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing new medications of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine. In 2015, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of about 14.8 billion euros. R&D expenditure corresponds to 20.3 per cent of net sales. For more information, please visit

Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim.

®GASTROGARD, ULCERGARD and ZIMECTERIN are registered trademarks of Merial. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. ©2017 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQUIUGD1703 (4/17)

American Association of Equine Practitioners. Horse Health, Internal Parasites: Strategies for Effective Parasite Control. Available at: Accessed February 9, 2017.
GASTROGARD product label.
McClure S. AAEP Equine Gastric Ulcers: Special Care and Nutrition. Available at: Accessed March 15, 2017.
ULCERGARD product label.
Based on Market Dynamics, Inc. AHS study data for Q12016 Moving Annual Total. Ranking represents cumulative dollar sales volume over the period.






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