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Bute versus Banamine®

What’s an NSAID?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are routinely used to help horses heal from injury & illness. NSAIDs reduce inflammation by “blocking” inflammatory proteins, which lowers temperature, swelling, and pain by reducing inflammation.

Commonly used NSAIDs in horses are phenylbutazone, commonly referred to as Bute, and flunixin meglumine, often referred to by the brand name Banamine®. Another common NSAID for long term use is firocoxib (Equioxx®).

Which NSAID should I give my horse?

Depending upon the type of illness or injury, your animal’s medical history and pre-existing health conditions, your veterinarian is best suited to make this recommendation. Based upon veterinarian practical experience, Banamine® is often prescribed for abdominal discomfort (colic), fever and eye pain, and Bute is prescribed for musculoskeletal injury and inflammation.

How should I administer NSAIDs to my horse?

Oral administration, either by dosing-syringe or in feed, is the safest way to administer an NSAID to your horse. Bute comes in pills, powder and paste formulations and Banamine® comes in a paste or liquid formulation.

How often should I give my horse NSAIDs?

Bute and Banamine® are 12-hour drugs which means that they should not be dosed more than twice daily (12 hours apart). If one weight-appropriate dose does not provide the expected result, then providing more within that same 12-hour window will not work any better. There are dangerous and life-threatening toxicities if NSAIDs are given at a more frequent, or higher than recommended dose.

Are there risks when giving my horse NSAIDs?

Bute and Banamine® can weaken the protective properties of the gastrointestinal tract, predisposing to stomach ulcers, colon ulcers & life-threatening colitis. NSAIDs can also be dangerous to kidney function too, especially when given to a dehydrated horse or when given in combination with other medications. Proper hydration status and kidney function can be confirmed with blood work before or at the time of starting NSAIDs.

What can I do to reduce the risks of NSAIDs?

To reduce the risk of side effects we often prescribe Bute or Banamine® for a short course of 5-7 days at a time. If longer term use of an NSAID is required, then we will often recommend firocoxib (Equioxx®). Firocoxib has less potential to disrupt gastrointestinal and kidney function. Gastrogard® or Ulcergard® can be given at the same time as Bute or Banamine® administration to help protect against stomach ulcer formation.

Please consult with your EquidDoc veterinarians before giving any medication, especially an NSAID such as Bute (phenylbutazone) or Banamine® (flunixin meglumine). Call EquidDoc at 508-855-4205 or email offic@equiddocvet.com.