‘Gut & ‘Gard – Understanding the Difference


I have my semi retired Irish Sport horse on ulcer guard and someone suggested gut smart because it’s cheaper, are they the same thing? KJ, New York

Dear KJ,
While protecting our pocketbooks can be as important as protecting our horses, in this case we’re talking about two (actually three) different things that work best together. That is, they’re complementary. Let me explain!

Step one of the three-step plan proven to stop gastric ulcers is treating your horse with GastroGard® (omeprazole), the only medication approved by the FDA to treat equine stomach ulcers. Since you don’t specifically mention that your horse has currently been diagnosed with ulcers, I’m going to guess that, before his retirement, this was a common health condition you struggled with that has gotten better with a reduction in training and stress.

In that case, we can move right along to step number two: maintaining stomach health. In a university-led research study, our SmartGut Ultra was shown to maintain stomach health in horses under stress, as well as horses that had been treated for gastric lesions. According to the lead investigator, Dr. Frank Andrews from Louisiana State University, “if your horse is under stress, I recommend feeding SmartGut Ultra to help reduce your horse’s risk of developing ulcers.”

Step three (which you’re already doing) is to give UlcerGard® (also omeprazole), the only non-prescription medication approved by the FDA to prevent equine stomach ulcers. This makes it the right choice before, during, and after stressful events like horse shows, clinics, and moving to a new barn.

So to be clear, give prescription GastroGard on your veterinarian’s advice to treat, SmartGut Ultra as daily support, and UlcerGard for extra support during extra stress to prevent. Since omeprazole completely blocks acid production in the stomach–yet some acid is needed for proper digestion–it’s a good idea to give your horse a break from omeprazole yet still protect his stomach tissues with a daily supplement.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Ask the Vet

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2 comments on “‘Gut & ‘Gard – Understanding the Difference
  1. Leslie cameron says:

    What is the correct dose of Smart Digest Ultra for a large horse, 17 hands, 1200-1500lbs?

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Leslie, thanks for asking! For a horse weighing 1,200-1,500lbs we would recommend starting with the maintenance serving size of SmartDigest Ultra of 1 scoop equal to 30g. – Dr. Lydia Gray

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