The U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Equine Drug and Medication Committee has proposed a rule change that would limit the use of approved non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to one at a time in horses at USEF-licensed competitions. The rule change will be up for approval at the USEF Annual Meeting in January.
The current USEF rule dictates that a restricted amount of two of seven approved NSAIDS may be used. The one exception to this rule is that currently phenylbutazone (“bute”) and flunixin (Banamine®) are never permitted together.
Earlier this year, the USEF Veterinary Committee passed a motion supporting restricted NSAID use on the grounds of horse welfare. Several veterinarians, including A. Kent Allen DVM (see “The Dangers Of Over-Medication And Under-Diagnosis”) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners support restricting the use of multiple NSAIDs.
According to many scientific studies, which may be found on the USEF website, side effects and health hazards of administering multiple NSAID drugs include gastric and colonic ulcers, large colon and cecal impaction, renal damage and right dorsal colitis, reduced appetite, low white blood cell counts and low protein levels.
Common NSAIDs include phenylbutazone, flunixin, firocoxib (Equioxx) and diclofenac (Surpass).