According to a 2006 study by veterinarian Franklin Pellegrini, at least 60 per cent of performance horses competing in sports like dressage, gymkhana, reining and racing suffer from ulcers. These are primarily caused by the stress of training and changes in diet, which includes less time out to pasture grazing and more time in a stall. Gastric ulcers may also affect horses active in breeding programs. One way to treat and prevent gastric ulcers in horses is with the medication ranitidine.
Ulcers are a wound in a horse's stomach lining caused by acid. Ranitidine is a medication to treat and prevent gastric ulcers in horses. It works by decreasing the acid in a horse's stomach, aiding in treating existing ulcers and preventing new ones from occurring. You may get ranitidine in tablet form with a prescription from your veterinarian or as a primary ingredient in medicines like Ulcerguard.
A prescription is needed for ranitidine to treat your horse's gastric ulcer. And like many medications, there are some possible restrictions and side effects. Ranitidine should be used carefully in horses with heart, liver or kidney disease, as well as horses that are pregnant or lactating. Side-effects are rare and include facial swelling, hives, and diarrhoea. A veterinarian will be able to best decide whether ranitidine is right for a horse and in what dosage.
Ranitidine is a relatively low-cost medication to treat horse ulcers with some online retailers selling it for about £3 for 60 150 mg tablets in 2010. Horse owners may also get ranitidine from their veterinarians.
While ranitidine begins working as a preventive as soon as it is absorbed in the intestinal tract, to treat existing gastric ulcers it must be used long term. Often it is recommended that horse owners use ranitidine consistently for approximately 28 days to effectively treat gastric ulcers, followed by preventive steps that may include ranitidine in smaller doses. Symptoms may reoccur if a dose is missed.
Grazing on grass is the natural way to reduce excess stomach acid that causes ulcers; however, many horses, particularly ones in training, are stalled more often than they are out to pasture. Ranitidine treats and prevents ulcers by reducing the amount of stomach acid and may result in reduced risk of colic, increased appetite, change in attitude and improved performance. It also allows for performance horses to continue competing.