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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Re: ulcers....

Hi Jane,

I would not give sodium bicarbonate or calcium carbonate to a horse who has ulcers. Both of these are antacids, but they will not heal anything. They will only make the horse feel better for a few minutes.

Sodium bicarbonate is baking soda -- the little yellow box you put in your refrigerator to absorb odors, or use in baking. It is a leavening agent, and surprisingly, the horse's pancreas actually produces sodium bicarbonate to neutralize acid so the digestive enzymes in the small intestine can function.

Calcium carbonate is an antacid that people commonly take -- Tums is a popular brand. It is also a source of calcium (though not a very good one since it neutralizes acid and calcium needs acid to be absorbed).

So, having said that -- the cure is to give this unfortunate horse all the hay he wants and remove the stress of competition for every last blade of grass. Since he currently has an ulcer, I would recommend a month regimen (no longer) of Gastrogard, while also administering Amiquell to help his digestive tract heal. A good probiotic such as Daily Start is also a must.

Keep me posted!

All the best,

Dr. Getty
Author of Feed Your Horse Like A Horse

I was asked recently about using sodium bicarbonate for treating ulcers. I looked this up and got pretty confused. What is the difference between sodium and calcium (bi)carbonate? Does sodium influence the ph of the digestive system in a negative way? What would you recommend for a horse that most likely has ulcers, but the owner doesn't know what kind or where? This horse is outside 24/7 in a crowded, overgrazed pasture. He gets hay - but not all he can eat - he does run out. He also is a windsucker and tends to be a bit on the nervous side. Thanks!

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO