Finding Bisphosphonates in a Horse’s Medical History

Should a buyer be concerned about a horse receiving bisphosphonates in the past? A sports medicine specialist offers insight.

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Finding Bisphosphonates in a Horse
In combination with traditional therapies such as corrective shoeing, anti-inflammatory medication administration, exercise modification, and other systemic treatments, bisphosphonate drugs have been useful tools for veterinarians managing navicular disease. | Photo: iStock

Q. I recently requested the medical history of a 10-year-old jumper I’m considering buying, and it shows he received bisphosphonates twice in the past 18 months. I don’t know much about these drugs except that they’re used for navicular syndrome. Should I be worried that he’s receiving them?

A. To answer this question, a brief background and understanding of bisphosphonate drugs is important.

The United States Federal Drug Administration approved two bisphosphonate medications (Tildren and Osphos) in 2014 for use in the horse. Both products are labeled for treatment of navicular syndrome (podotrochlosis) in horses older than 4 years of age. Since this time, there has been dramatic and widespread use of these drugs in veterinarians’ arsenal of treatments for navicular syndrome

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Written by:

Josh Zacharias, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, is an Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine graduate who practices at Countryside Large Animal Veterinary Services in Greeley, Colorado. His interests include equine lameness, surgery, and podiatry. In addition to working as a surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Zacharias is a farrier with nearly 15 years of experience in therapeutic shoeing applications. Much of his caseload includes Western performance horses.

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