SmartPak Equine - Q+A with Dr. Frank M. Andrews
SmartGut Ultra

Q+A with Dr. Frank M. Andrews

Stomach ulcers are surprisingly common in horses. In fact, it's estimated that 60-90% of performance horses have stomach ulcers. There are prescription medications available to treat gastric ulcers, but due to the "acid rebound effect," horses who've had ulcers have an increased risk of developing a new ulcer when treatment stops.

However, a recent study at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine demonstrated that SmartGut® Ultra blunts the number and severity of gastric lesions after ulcer treatment. We sat down with Dr. Frank Andrews, the veterinarian who led the study, to get all the details.

SmartPak: Please give us a brief overview of the study.

Dr. Andrews: The study was conducted to evaluate the effect of SmartGut Ultra on horses with naturally occurring stomach ulcers. The horses studied were split into two groups, with one group receiving only 14 days of GastroGard®, and the other group receiving 14 days of GastroGard in addition to daily supplementation with SmartGut Ultra for the entire 35-day study. We then performed a crossover in which we switched the two groups and repeated the entire study.

SmartPak: What were the results?

Dr. Andrews: The findings were interesting in that the horses who received SmartGut Ultra had fewer ulcers on day 28 (two weeks after GastroGard treatment was discontinued). In other words, SmartGut Ultra supplementation kept new ulcers from forming after cessation of GastroGard treatment, when horses are typically prone to the "acid rebound effect." We then put those horses through a feeding-stress, (temporarily withholding feed), and SmartGut Ultra supplementation blunted the number of new stomach ulcers that formed, when compared to the unsupplemented controls.

SmartPak: Can you tell us more about the "acid rebound effect"?

Dr. Andrews: As it turns out, when you stop GastroGard treatment, the horse's body responds by overproducing stomach acid, putting your horse at a greater risk for recurrence of ulcers! In people, the "acid rebound effect" can last up to 3 months after treatment with antiulcer medications, so supplementation during and after GastroGard treatment can help protect against the "acid rebound effect."

SmartPak: What do these results mean for horse owners?

Dr. Andrews: Stomach ulcers can be painful and stressful to their horses and lead to loss of appetite, weight loss and poor performance. When your horse develops stomach ulcers you should begin feeding SmartGut Ultra and treat with GastroGard to heal the ulcers. But long-term treatment with GastroGard is expensive, not ideal for normal digestive processes, and when discontinued can lead to rapid recurrence of ulcers due to the "acid rebound effect." SmartGut Ultra can help maintain stomach health without altering the stomach acid needed for proper digestion.

Number of Lesions Bar Graph
Number of Lesions Bar Graph Key

SOURCE: Excerpted from a blinded, two-period crossover study conducted by Dr. Frank Andrews, Louisiana State University.

1   All horses were treated with GastroGard from Day 1-14 in order to start with a healthy stomach.

2   Stress included stall confinement and rebound acid production associated with discontinuing GastroGard treatment.

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Meet the Vet Dr. Frank M. Andrews

Dr. Frank M. Andrews is an equine internal medicine specialist, LVMA Equine Committee Professor and Director of the Equine Health Studies Program at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. For the last 23 years, Dr. Andrews' research has focused on the causes, treatment and prevention of gastric ulcer disease in horses.

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