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Get a Vet Diagnosis Before Giving Your Horse an NSAID

Filed under: Health & Training |     

Photo Credit: Brittany Bevis

by: Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

Contact your veterinarian before administering non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

It can happen to anyone – your horse is lame. Lameness can be very subtle, or can be more obvious, but in each case, it’s important to determine when and if an NSAID is an appropriate treatment option, and if so, which NSAID to choose.

NSAIDs are some of the most common medications given to horses. They are frequently prescribed for the treatment of pain and inflammation associated with equine osteoarthritis (OA), one of the most common causes of lameness in horses.1 Equine veterinarians have a number of options when choosing an NSAID and will prescribe the best option for each individual horse. Owners and trainers need to remember NSAIDs are only available with a veterinarian’s prescription.2

“NSAIDs are an important part of joint health management,” says Britt Conklin, DVM, Senior Equine Professional Services Veterinarian, Boehringer Ingelheim. “But they have to be used appropriately. Giving an NSAID and putting your horse on stall rest may or may not be the best course of treatment. Additionally, giving an NSAID prior to a veterinarian’s diagnosis could mask the ailment, causing more problems in the long run.”

After an examination, your veterinarian will determine the diagnosis. It might be OA, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), caused by progressive wear and tear of cartilage and other parts of the joint.

Signs of OA include:

  • Joint swelling3
  • Limping or lameness3
  • Decreased activity during turnout4
  • Stiffness or decreased range of motion3

“When left untreated, OA creates a vicious cycle where chronic pain may lead to immobility, worsening joint deterioration and more pain,” Conklin says. “Contact your veterinarian at the first sign of any potential side effect.”

When treating pain and inflammation associated with OA, veterinarians may consider Equioxx® (firocoxib), by Merial, the first and only FDA-approved coxib class NSAID for horses. The active ingredient in EQUIOXX inhibits the inflammation-producing enzyme (Cyclooxygenase-2) which is associated with inflammatory processes, while sparing the enzyme (Cyclooxygenase-1) that safeguards a number of normal body functions, including stomach protection.*

Another pain management option veterinarians may consider is Surpass® (1% diclofenac sodium), a unique topical NSAID that provides pain relief directly at the site of inflammation. SURPASS is the only FDA-approved topical application for horses for the control of pain and inflammation associated with OA in the hock, knee, fetlock and pastern joints in horses.

Conklin urges horse owners not to take joint health treatment into their own hands. Veterinarians will take into account the ailment, age of the horse, activity level of the horse and the route of administration. “Talk to your veterinarian about appropriate NSAID options for your horse,” he says.

*Clinical relevance has not been determined.

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