NSAIDs: Helpful or Harmful for Horses?
These drugs are an integral part of your veterinarian’s pain- and inflammation-fighting arsenal, but sometimes they do more harm than good
One of the most distressing things about horse ownership is seeing your beloved animal in pain. Whether it be colic- or lameness-related, your first instinct is to try to relieve the discomfort. Many horse owners have medications that their veterinarians have prescribed to manage their horses’ pain in these instances. But is administering these always the best decision? Could doing so cause more harm than good?
The most commonly administered medications for treating painful conditions in horses are phenylbutazone (Bute), flunixin meglumine (Banamine), ketoprofen (Ketofen), and firocoxib (Equioxx). These are classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.
“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used for their analgesic (pain-eliminating) and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, professor of equine surgery and gastroenterology at North Carolina State University, in
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