Dipyrone Might Be Effective for Reducing Fever in Horses

Currently, there are no medications approved by the FDA to control fever in horses.

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Like humans, horses spike fevers. But while physicians can recommend acetaminophen and ibuprofen for patients with pyrexia (fever) who are suffering from discomfort, there are currently no medications labeled to control it in horses. So equine practitioners generally administer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs in pyrexic animals.

The NSAID dipyrone is approved in several different countries—but not the United States–for use in animals and people to reduce fever and relieve pain. Emily Sundman, DVM, of Kindred Biosciences Inc., in Burlingame, California, lead a study to investigate this drug’s safety and efficacy in horses. She summarized the results at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 3-7 in Orlando, Florida.

“Currently, no medication is approved by the FDA to control fever in horses, which is a challenge for veterinarians treating these horses,” Sundman explained. “Controlling fever in horses has many positive outcomes, including maintaining appetite and water consumption, and promoting normal locomotion and behaviors that quicken recovery.”

With the owners’ consent, Sundman and colleagues studied horses of various breeds from 14 clinical research sites in 12 states. The horses had a fever of at least 102°F, and to be included in the study, they had to be older than 1 year, not pregnant, and free of severe systemic disease. The causes of fever varied, including respiratory infection, tick-borne illness, immune-mediated problems, and gastrointestinal issues

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Written by:

Nettie Liburt, MS, PhD, PAS, is an equine nutritionist based on Long Island, New York. She is a graduate of Rutgers University, where she studied equine exercise physiology and nutrition. Liburt is a member of the Equine Science Society.

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