Omeprazole - Gastric Ulcer Treatment


What is Omeprazole?

Omeprazole is from a family of proton pump inhibitors (PPI's) that blocks secretion of acid and assists by reducing and neutralizing acid in the horse's stomach allowing improved healing of existing ulcer damage.
Omeprazole is effective for 24 hours, allowing the stomach sufficient time to heal itself. A treatment regime of 28 days will heal the ulcer, and with the chance of re-occurrence being very high, a prevention regime is highly recommended to avoid a flare up of new ulcers.

Statistics show up to 60% of performance horses suffer equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS), and 90% of racehorses having mild to severe ulcers. Foals are also likely to develop ulcers from a young age

What causes excessive Stomach Acid?

The stomach of a horse is divided into - 2 sections

  • non-glandular  
  • glandular

The glandular area produces hydrochloric acid, which is an enzyme crucial to digestion of food. This region of the digestive system produces substances to help protect the stomach from any effects of the acid. Horses and humans differ, whereby in a horse hydrochloric acid is constantly being produced.

Horses need feed 24/7, if they do not constantly eat, acid will accumulate in the stomach with the lining in the non-glandular area becoming inflamed. 

In summary, the lower section (glandular) of horse's stomach produces acid to help the digestion of food, whilst the upper section of the stomach should not contain any acid at all. 

A natural horse diet is of fibrous forage - mature pasture. Horses today tend to live in a very managed, intense environment with a diet of high grain with low roughage, stall confinement and intensive training, all being a huge risk to the formation of ulcers. .
A simple change to the horse's daily routine can cause excessive acid leading to ulcers.

Causes of Equine Gastric Ulcers

  • Transportation
  • New horse or animal at the barn
  • Treatment with Bute or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's)
  • Fasting or training on an empty stomach
  • Stress