Veterinarians, what’s in your little black bag for providing appropriate pain relief to sick or injured horses and foals?

Practitioners took turns answering this question during the Medical Pain Management Table Topic session at the 2015 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas.

In this conversation-style forum, practitioners relayed their field experience in delivering pain management and discussed the pros and cons of various drugs and drug combinations. They also shared stories about trying new “off the cuff” techniques in cases that did not respond to tried-and-true approaches and learned about new products and drug combinations from session facilitators Lori Bidwell, DVM, Dipl. ACVAA, a certified veterinary acupuncturist from Kentucky-based East West Equine Sports Medicine, and Debra Sellon, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, Director of Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The group unanimously voted laminitis the first pain management topic. Attendees admitted they still struggle with providing appropriate analgesia in the face of this excruciating condition. Some of the drugs they most commonly use include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as phenylbutazone (Bute);
  • Gabapentin (a drug that helps slow transmission of excitable nerves associated with pain, used for nerve associated pain in people);
  • Tramadol (a narcoticlike pain reliever);
  • Acepromazine (commonly referred to as Ace); and
  • Acetaminophen.

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