Stress, travel, competition, medication and changes in feeding are all known to be triggers for horses to get ulcers. Unfortunately, these situations are often outside our control and a horse prone to ulcers may be at a higher risk of developing or flaring existing ulcers.
But there's good news! An organised horse person can preempt these situations and treat with sucralfate to protect against flare-ups.
Is it safe to use sucralfate as an ulcer preventative?
Sucralfate is a complex that forms a protective barrier over the horse’s digestive system. It prevents ulcers forming and also allows existing ulcers to heal. Because very little sucralfate is absorbed by the horse - there are very few (if any) side effects from treating ‘as needed’ with sucralfate.
We suggest starting sucralfate treatment 24 hours prior to the expected trigger and continuing treatment 24 hour after the ‘threat’ has passed.
Below are a few examples of how you might use sucralfate as an ulcer preventative.
After years of training, it's finally time to get Big Red out to an event!
However, he's known to get stressed out in new environments & he’s not a great traveller. Last year he was successfully treated for ulcers and you don't want any event or travelling stress to bring them back.
Recommendation: Start sucralfate 24 hours before you plan to travel, continue treatment throughout the event and then treat for a further day after you return home.
Medication should be given every 6-8 hours.
You can find out more about how to treat with sucralfate here.
Jasper is starting to react to the emergence of sugary spring grass. You know in the past that sugary grass has resulted in ulcers. Keeping him locked up is not an option.
Early spring grasses are much like giving your horse grain. This excess sugar can overload the hindgut, leading to a build up of lactic acid which then leads to hindgut ulcers.
Recommendation: Administer sucralfate twice a day. This can be continued right through spring if needed. You can find out more about treating with sucralfate long term here.
Accident prone Rocky has been prescribed 4 weeks of bute as he recovers from a paddock accident. You're worried because long term bute use is one of the main causes of ulcers...
It's true. Bute (especially extended treatments) can cause ulcers in horses.
To protect your horse from ulcers, you can safely use Sucralfate while treating with Bute.