It seems everywhere you look, there’s another horse that’s developed laminitis (sigh) or another researcher studying how manage it (yay!). Case in point: A research team from the University of Illinois recently evaluated the efficacy of alternative pain killers compared to traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for managing acute foot pain, such as that seen in laminitic horses.

Jonathan H. Foreman, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of veterinary clinical medicine at the school’s College of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Teaching Hospital, presented the study’s results at the 2015 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, held June 4-6 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Foreman said traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) such as phenylbutazone (Bute or PBZ) and flunixin meglumine (Banamine, or FM) are pan-cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors known to have potentially harmful side effects when administered, such as gastrointestinal ulceration and kidney disease. So, “veterinarians treating laminitis often search for efficacious alternatives to conventional NSAIDs,” he said.

To that end, he and colleagues recently compared two alternative pain killers—firocoxib and acetaminophen, both non-pan-COX inhibitors—to PBZ, FM, and a saline control.

“Firocoxib is a selective COX-2 inhibitor, meaning that it should inhibit the production only of ‘bad’ prostaglandins and not the ‘good’ ones that maintain normal gastrointestinal mucosal blood flow and normal renal (kidney) blood flow,” he explained.

The researchers induced reversib