The Truth About NSAIDs

NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) are commonly used in the equine industry to control pain and discomfort associated with musculoskeletal disease and abdominal discomfort (among many other applications).  While veterinarians will commonly dispense NSAIDs like bute and banamine to clients for use in their horses, there are a few key points we’d like to remind clients of before administering those medications: 

  • If there is any question on whether your horse is colicking, please call our emergency line first to discuss the clinical presentation and status of your horse, prior to administering banamine. 
    • Signs of colic (abdominal pain) include:
      • Rolling
      • Pawing
      • Off feed/anorexia
      • Demonstrating the flehmen response (lifting the upper lip)
      • Kicking at their belly
      • Lethargy
  • NSAIDs should not be used concurrently alongside other NSAIDs.  This includes Equioxx and Previcox, as those are both NSAIDs and should not be used in addition to bute or banamine in a 24 hour period. 
  • Do not use bute or banamine for several consecutive days without consulting with your primary veterinarian first.  Excessive use, or overdosing, of NSAIDs can cause significant damage to the horse’s GI tract and other organs. 
  • Check your horse’s temperature prior to administering an NSAID as these medications will mask a fever, which could confound a clinical examination and prevent an accurate diagnosis.
  • If the condition for which the NSAID was prescribed is not improving, please contact your primary veterinarian to discuss the progress of the case before subjecting your horse to prolonged NSAID exposure. 

NSAIDs are a powerful tool in the veterinary toolbox that require judicious use and a detailed knowledge of their effects, both positive and negative, on the horse’s physiology.  If you have any questions pertaining to NSAID use in your horse, please feel free to reach out to one of our veterinarians to discuss your concerns in further detail. 

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