Bute, Colitis, and Ulcers

The equine esophagus extends into the first one-third of the stomach, making horses susceptible to acid reflux disease. Naturally present bacteria can colonize in ulcers, and the stomach acid can keep them from healing.

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On a blazing Idaho day, the 4-year-old Arab gelding Khalil showed signs of colic. Owner Patty Katucki made an emergency call to the nearby Idaho Equine Veterinary Hospital in Nampa. Upon the veterinarian's arrival, he gave Khalil Banamine and tubed him. Since the horse's heart rate dropped from 60 to 48 in response to the Banamine, he seemed to be getting some relief.

Patty took Khalil to Idaho Equine for observation the next morning (Thursday) and left for an endurance ride with her other two horses. Liz Scott, DVM, took a fecal sample, did blood work, and started him on Carafate (a colitis treatment) after diagnosing right dorsal colitis–possibly from a sensitivity to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID, such as Bute or Banamine). On Friday he got GastroGard (to help prevent gastric ulcers) and pentoxifylline (to improve blood flow for the colitis and speed healing). Since colitis often leads to laminitis, his feet were radiographed.

When Patty heard Khalil had elevated digital pulses in both feet and laminitis was threatening, she sped home. Since he couldn't have typical Bute or Banamine treatment (because of his diagnosed NSAID sensitivity), he got IV DMSO as an anti-inflammatory.

Two years before, Khalil had presented with colicky distress and dark, hard manure. The albumin count in his blood resulted in a diagnosis of right dorsal colitis, but he wasn't scoped for ulcers at that time. "I gave Khalil Bute as directed on a couple of occasions for various youthful incidents, but certainly don't feel that he fits the profile of a heavily buted horse," Patty noted

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Written by:

Sally Eckhoff is a horse trainer/literary critic in upstate New York, and she has authored a book on working horses, mules, and oxen in the 21st Century.

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