How should I treat my pregnant broodmare with ulcers?
Treating any broodmare that is pregnant brings in its own complications, and this is often a question asked about how should I treat my pregnant broodmare with ulcers? Treating horses with gastric ulcers is complicated enough, without adding on the additional problems if your mare is pregnant.
There has unfortunately not been enough safety data tests done on pregnant horses previously, so all the omeprazole data sheets will state words to the effect of ” safety for use in pregnant mares has not been determined.”
The FDA classes omeprazole in horses as a Category B medication, which means “Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women”.
So what are your best options in treating mares with gastric ulcers?
Recent studies have shown that pregnant mares are less prone than their non-pregnant counterparts to develop gastric ulcers, however there is still a large enough percentage of broodmares that do develop gastric ulcers. Therefore it is important to follow the below advice before your horse becomes pregnant so as to try and minimise the onset of gastric ulcers:
- Allow sufficient exercise until late pregnancy stage when the mare becomes uncomfortable in exercising due to size. This would normally be classed as some light ground work. Being cooped up in a small camp or even in a stable for prolonged periods is a stressor to developing gastric ulcers in broodmares.
- Ensure a nutritious diet throughout every period of pregnancy. Ensure enough forage and fibre is given. Hard feeds only necessary in smaller amounts if mare is losing weight. Access to good amounts of grazing is ideal.
- Sucralfate has shown to be safe in pregnant mares. You could discuss this option with your veterinarian to help coat the stomach lining.
While Misoprostal has shown some success in treating horses with gastric ulcers, and a study was done a while ago (Jacobson et al, 2012), it is not advised to treat pregnant mares with Misoprostal. Misoprostol has the potential to induce abortion in humans and potentially in the horse as well.
An important note for this as well, it is inadvisable for pregnant women to be treating their horses with Misoprostal due to the possibility of getting into contact with the drug and potentially causing abortion.
It would be better to attempt to reduce the occurrence of ulcers in pregnant mares before they form. If this is not possible, it would be up to your veterinarian to decide the best course of action, depending on the risk-basis factor and welfare issues. Hopefully this answers your question on how should I treat my pregnant broodmare with ulcers?