A: That’s a great question—I know it can be a confusing issue for horse owners.
While both products contain the same specially formulated omeprazole, are proven and FDA-approved, and are manufactured and distributed by the same company, there is a difference between the two.
Gastrogard is used to treat existing equine stomach ulcers. To make a diagnosis, your veterinarian may examine your horse by running an endoscopic camera through its nose, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. If an endoscope is not available, your veterinarian might make a presumptive diagnosis based upon the horse’s history and clinical signs.
If stomach ulcers are diagnosed, Gastrogard is the only proven and FDA-approved product for treating them. When used as directed, and accurately dosed for the weight of your horse, the ulcers should be improved and possibly healed in 28 days. This will depend on the severity or grade of stomach ulcers at the time of diagnosis.
Ulcergard, on the other hand, is used to help prevent your horse from developing stomach ulcers. A horse is prone to developing stomach ulcers during times of stress which include, but are not limited to, training, competition, trailering, confinement (stalling a horse or keeping it in a small paddock), social regrouping, or weaning. When used as directed (a quarter of a tube per day), during these times of potential stress, Ulcergard helps prevent the formation of equine stomach ulcers in horses weighing 600 to 1,200 pounds. Talk with your veterinarian if you horse weighs more than 1,200 pounds to determine the appropriate preventive dose.
Because it is a preventive medication and not being used for treatment, Ulcergard does not require a prescription and thus can either be sold by your veterinarian or purchased in retail outlets. It is the only proven and FDA-approved product for preventing equine stomach ulcers.
It’s important to remember to check the label when putting any product in your horse’s body. Look for the New Animal Drug Application (NADA) number and the statement “Approved by the FDA” on the product’s packaging. This will assure the product has been thoroughly tested for both safety and effectiveness.