Hoof pain relief potential of ketorolac in horses investigated

In a recent trial, the efficacy of ketorolac in treating hoof pain in horses was no better than for commonly used medications. But, say researchers, more studies are needed.

The drug ketorolac tromethamine (Toradol) is no more effective at reducing hoof pain in horses than phenylbutazone or flunixin meglumine (Banamine), according to a new study.

Ketorolac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used in human medicine for the short-term treatment of moderate to severe pain. It is often given before or after medical procedures.

Click here to learn more about NSAID medications used in horses. 

Close up of two hind hooves and lower limbs
Researchers learned the drug ketorolac was no more effective at diminishing hoof pain than bute or Banamine

Using nine healthy horses, Purdue University researchers set out to determine whether ketorolac could provide greater equine pain relief than do commonly used medications. First, the horses were fitted with special shoes that apply pressure on the sole to induce a specific and quantifiable degree of lameness. Next, ketorolac, phenylbutazone, flunixin meglumine or a saline solution (to serve as a control) was administered intravenously. The dosages of the different medications were comparable and resulted in similar blood concentrations in all of the study subjects.

The researchers then evaluated each horse’s degree of lameness every 30 minutes for two hours, then every hour for the next 10 hours, using a lameness grading scale and an inertial sensor system. They also took blood samples to ensure that the medications were being absorbed by the horse’s bodies.

Based on the resulting data, the researchers conclude that there was no difference in lameness reduction between the horses given ketorolac and those that received the other NSAID medications. However, they call for future studies assessing the efficacy of ketorolac in controlling pain when given as a continuous-rate intravenous infusion in hospitalized horses.

Reference: “Ketorolac is not more effective than flunixin meglumine or phenylbutazone in reducing foot pain in horses,” Journal of Equine Vet Science, November 2020

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