For your horse’s sake: Know your NSAIDS

Here's a crib sheet for which non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work best for specific types of discomfort in horses.

All non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) provide relief from pain, but some work better on specific types of discomfort. Here’s a rundown to which NSAIDs work best for different types of discomfort that your horse may experience.

Selecting the correct NSAID for a situation is important for effective pain relief.

• Phenylbutazone is typically the NSAID of choice for chronic or acute bone pain

• Flunixin meglumine is more often used to treat pain associated with colic and soft-tissue injuries

• Firocoxib is a COX-2 inhibitor, meaning it targets only certain classes of cyclooxygenase enzymes—those associated with harmful inflammation—while typically preserving those that have a protective function. This means that firocoxib can often be given to horses who are sensitive to conventional NSAIDs with much less risk of adverse side effects, or for longer periods of time to manage chronic pain.

• Topical diclofenac, an ointment applied directly to a target area, such a soft-tissue injury, by-passing the gastrointestinal system to reduce risks of side effects.

• Ophthalmic diclofenac, an ointment used to treat inflamed eyes.

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