Bute for Old Bones
Q. I have a 38-year-old grade gelding with huge, arthritic knees. He fell three weeks ago. Radiographs show nothing broken or fractured. My veterinarian wants him on Bute forever. Is there anything else that could help him with no side effects?

—via e-mail

A. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs are sometimes necessary in aged horses to keep them comfortable, and many horses do not have any problem being on daily NSAIDs, including phenylbutazone (also known as Bute).

There are many joint supplements commercially available that can help the horse with mild arthritis, or help in combination with NSAIDs. But if the arthritis is severe you might, as your veterinarian suggested, need to use drugs to alleviate the chronic pain.