Something was telling me that Knight, my Thoroughbred had ulcers again.
As animal owners sometimes we just know when things are a little off with our fur kids. Am I right? I didn’t want to mess around with a severe case of ulcers like those Knight endured around Thanksgiving last year, so we trailered to the veterinary hospital where he had spent several days at the end of 2015 to have him re-scoped.
What we discovered validated my fear that I am not a hypochondriac on behalf of my horse. (Horse medical pictures alert–be prepared if you’re a little squeamish!)
Three Clues That Made Me Think Knight Had Ulcers (Again)
First, I was ecstatic when Knight stopped cribbing after his 30-day treatment of Gastrogard six months ago. This is not something I have blogged about before–his cribbing. However, I have thought about writing a post titled “How I Stopped My Horse From Cribbing,” but that seemed misleading because I didn’t do anything except give him meds. And I really am not with him 24/7 so he might have sneaked in a bite a two on his stall door when I wasn’t around. Maybe he rescheduled all his cribbing to odd hours when I’m not around (like 3 a.m.). I have truly felt it was like a miracle–the ulcer meds not only took away his ulcers, but seemed to have also “cured” him from cribbing. GastroGard I love you!
Yet in recent weeks I had noticed Knight starting to crib again! Ug!
He didn’t start cribbing constantly, but a couple times while eating his hay–he would be happily munching along on alfalfa and then for no apparent reason, grab the metal feed trough edge and suck in air. I noticed him clamp his teeth down on the metal rail of the pipe corral turn out. A friend mentioned to me she saw him crib the other day too. All of these events provided evidence something was up.
Second, in the last few weeks I detected a subtle change in Knight’s personality. It seemed he was a little crabbier than normal. A little more reluctant to be led to the mounting block, and a little more “attitudey” toward horses in passing. And by this I mean a quick pinning back of his ears. Although there was that one time that scared me when he freaked out on the cross ties and he seemed inches away from shattering my knee. Neither he nor I were in a good place that day. It’s not like his personality changed completely, but it was something ever so slight.
At the clinic, Knight stood like a champ while an intern slid a long, narrow tube (the camera and such) into Knight’s nostril. Imagine the opposite of a magician pulling a series of colorful scarves out of his sleeve. And as the tiny camera was re-positioned so the monitor would show all areas of his stomach, I felt like I was watching a documentary on sea creatures. His stomach and its features looked otherworldly.
Even though I’m not a veterinarian, I could tell from the view his stomach was nothing like it had been that first time around Thanksgiving. But I did see a few small red spots. Do you notice them on the picture below?
Third, the fact that my horse had ulcers before made me think he quite possibly had them again.
So the veterinarian affirmed my suspicions and said there were some ulcers, nothing like his previous ones, but he said there was a yellowish hue to the stomach and a horse’s stomach is supposed to be as white as a piece of printer paper. He told me it was a good thing I came in so we could nip this now with appropriate treatment over the next three weeks.
Ulcer Treatment Options
I was given the choice of getting a prescription for Ranitidine filled at Costco which would be MUCH cheaper (although labor intensive) or buying UlcerGard.
The Ranitidine would need to be counted (I believe he said 15 or 18), then ground in a coffee grinder and then mixed in with maple syrup (because the pills are bitter) and placed into a syringe and given to Knight twice a day precisely 12 hours apart. This was my preferred option, but of course I’m traveling for the next three weeks and after putting our heads together, my trainer and I could not come up with a reliable and available person to administer the evening dosage (she would have taken the early a.m. shift).
And so, for the sake of ease and making sure Knight gets his meds consistently over the next three weeks while I’m gone, I gulped and ordered four six packs of UlcerGard. The total amount is more expensive than my monthly board. <sigh>
When the vet said the magic word “three weeks of treatment” I said, “I’m heading out of town for three weeks.” He then said it was good to be treating the ulcers now because a change in Knight’s lifestyle could have contributed to the ulcers worsening.
I said, “I honestly can’t imagine he would be in his stall pining for me.” I know my horse likes me, but he is not overly affectionate. And he will be ridden and turned out and cared for while I’m gone. It’s not like I’m his only friend.
The vet said something to the effect that he had a horse come in to the clinic with a case of ulcers and the culprit was his owner was away for several weeks and his schedule was disrupted.
It was kind of the vet to hint that maybe my horse is more attached to me than I previously thought. I just don’t want horse ulcers to be the proof.
Your Turn: Have you ever dealt with horse ulcers or had to travel while a pet needed ongoing medical treatment? How did you manage?
Thanks for reading! 🙂