Study: Omeprazole Reduces Calcium Digestibility in Horses

While omeprazole use is unlikely to cause bone issues in horses consuming correct rations, researchers said it’s important to respect professional recommendations for both omeprazole treatment duration and commercial feeding instructions.
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Study: Omeprazole Reduces Calcium Digestibility in Horses
Horses on hay alone or that receive supplementary commercial feed mixed with oats, for example, might not be getting adequate calcium if they’re also being treated for gastric ulcers. | Photo: iStock
Feeding horses treated with omeprazole a well-balanced concentrate ration can ensure they receive enough calcium to make up for any deficiencies the ulcer medication could potentially cause.

Researchers have found that horses treated for gastric ulcers could be getting less calcium into the bloodstream than they would normally. Depending on the calcium source, horses treated with omeprazole (such as GastroGard, the FDA-approved medications for the treatment and prevention of equine gastric ulcers) could be digesting 15-20% less calcium than when they’re not on omeprazole.

Over prolonged treatment periods, this could lead to deficiencies if the horse isn’t consuming adequate amounts of calcium, said Joe Pagan, PhD, founder of Kentucky Equine Research (KER), in Versailles.

“The vast majority of commercial feeds include sufficient quantities of calcium for working horses to cover the horse’s calcium needs, even if he’s not digesting the full amount due to omeprazole,” said Pagan. “But that means following the feeding instructions on the labels to be sure the horse is getting the correct ration

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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