Think Before You Reach for an NSAID for Your Horse

Why You Should Consider Reaching Out to Your Veterinarian Before Reaching for an NSAID.
Equine lameness seems to happen at the most inopportune times, and it’s one of the main reasons for removing a horse from athletic activity. When lameness appears, horse owners are often quick to reach for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). In fact, a survey found 82 percent of horse owners use NSAIDs without consulting their veterinarian.1 But that may not be the smart move.

“It’s important for horse owners to consult their veterinarian before giving an NSAID,” says Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS, Senior Manager, Merial Large Animal Veterinary Services. “The best option – and the shortest path back to soundness – may be a medication, treatment or protocol the horse owner hasn’t considered.”

“In addition, no medication is without risks,” says Cheramie. “Your veterinarian is the best person to help you monitor your horse’s health for potential side effects or lack of efficacy. Keeping your veterinarian involved, even if it’s just informing them of your treatment decision, will provide them with important information in the future if the issue comes up again.”

Your equine veterinarian considers many factors before prescribing any treatment, including an NSAID:

  • What is the horse’s history?
  • Is the diagnosis a simple lameness or could it be something else?
  • What treatment options are available?
  • What is the horse owner’s budget and resources?

If your veterinarian does recommend an NSAID, they’ll take into consideration:

  • Has this horse been given this medication before?
  • What dosage should the horse receive, and what is the best route of administration?
  • What are the potential side effects of the treatment or medication?

The decision-making process can be complex, which is why most equine NSAIDs are available only with a prescription. If for some reason your horse does have a reaction or fails to improve, ensuring your veterinarian is fully aware of the situation will be a benefit.

Regardless of discipline, when your horse is lame, it can impact not only your short-term competitive goals but also your horse’s long-term health. So, before you reach for that old tube or bottle, talk to your veterinarian about all of your options to help effectively manage lameness, pain and inflammation in your horse.

1Andrews F, McConnico R. Cause for concern: Evidence that therapeutic dosing of nonselective NSAIDs contributes to gastrointestinal injury. Equine Vet Education. 2009;21(12):663-664.