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Old horse ongoing pain control?

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    Old horse ongoing pain control?

    My 25 year old retired brood mare is getting frail to the point that she needs ongoing pain control. She has tendon issues in front legs, spinal arthritis, and pretty severe arthritis in a back pastern. Max dose of MSM is no longer enough, and her main issue is a hard time getting up and down when rolling outside. She lives like a queen and has great food, blankets, and a stall highly banked on one side so she can get up and down easily in there. She is finally in good weight thanks to Teff hay that she loves, great alfalfa, senior and beet pulp,and she is still full of life. Edited to say she also gets Flax seed for weight and any anti-inflamatory effects it may have.
    I would like to get her through at least next summer so she can graze outside in the sun again.
    Her mother was on 3/4 gm Bute per day many years ago when aged and even that amount resulted in an ulcer found after she died from another cause.

    Besides alternating Bute and Asparin, any options that work? Any combo pain supplements that have good results in old horses? Of course, I am also asking my vet.

    Last edited by Plumcreek; Jan. 10, 2011, 06:02 PM.
    Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design

    Our 22, almost 23 year old retired TB is on one gram of bute daily for his arthritis, etc. I split the 1 gram tablet in half and dissolve the half in 5-6 alfalfa cubes soaked in hot water. I also mix his Recovery EQ + HA in a couple tablespoons of applesauce and add that to the alfalfa mixture in the morning and mix all in his grain, and he just gets the bute/alfalfa mixture in his grain at dinner. Our vet suggested the alfalfa cubes to buffer the acidity of the bute. We have been doing this for many months, and it seems to be working well. I don't know how much relief can be credited to the bute, and how much to the Recovery EQ + HA. All I know is that this seems to be working for our guy.
    stained glass groupie


      my senior was on daily bute for a very long time years ago due to arthritis. So much so that he gets ulcery very easily and can never have bute again.

      I started using navicula saver by figurelo (sp?) after my old man fell on pavement and his ddft began to calcify. The product claimed to help 'decalcify' and thats why I chose it, not as pain control. I don't think that it ever did what it claimed, but it is a cox2 inhibitor and I found it worked as well if not better than a low dose of bute for helping ease the stiffness of arthritis.

      The old man was on it for 2 years without it ever affecting his ulcers, and it set up a positive domino effect where I could slowly wean him off it and replace it with more movement, better weight, etc. He moves better now than he did 5 years ago.

      I also noticed a huge improvement in his way of going when feeding a cup a day of omegahorseshine.

      Now he's on only msm and omega horseshine (touch wood).
      Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


        I personally am all for quality of life over quantity of life. If bute makes her feel better, give it to her. If it shortens her life in some way so be it. My lab was on tons of meds for many years. I knew I could be shortening her life by giving it to her but at least she had a life. She wouldn't have if I didn't medicate her. I eventually put her down when the pain meds couldn't do the job anymore, not because they caused a secondary problem. It wouldn't have mattered to me either way however, it was what was best for the dog.
        McDowell Racing Stables

        Home Away From Home


          If MSM worked for a long time, I'd look into some herbal antiinflammatories- like Yucca, Boswellia and Devil's Claw.

          I like the Smartflex Senior supplement, and BL pellets-but I'm sure there are others.


            I believe in quality of life too So I use an nssaid and keep an eye on the gums etc. Its worth the risk of ulcers(For me)

            Other arthrists meds
            Naproxen(good ol Aleve)

            Do NOT give bute and Naproxen togther...wait around 3 days before giving bute AFTER having given Naproxen. Naproxen takes longer to clear the system. Maybe call your vet and see what he/she says?

            You could also inject the most painful joint, and then use bute as needed.

            best wishes for you and your mare


              Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
              I personally am all for quality of life over quantity of life. If bute makes her feel better, give it to her. If it shortens her life in some way so be it. My lab was on tons of meds for many years. I knew I could be shortening her life by giving it to her but at least she had a life. She wouldn't have if I didn't medicate her. I eventually put her down when the pain meds couldn't do the job anymore, not because they caused a secondary problem. It wouldn't have mattered to me either way however, it was what was best for the dog.

              When Chance was 30 the vet said any damage from a daily dose of Bute was far out-weighed by the relief it gave him. His last months were pain-free, one of the few ways I could repay him for 15 years of "service".
              You're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!


                I would try equioxx/previcoxx. My vet sells me a 60 tablet 227mg which I cut in 1/4's. My gelding with fusing pastern gets a 1/4 tablet five days a week. He can go without but I think he is more comfortable with the 1/4 (57mg) of previcoxx. I had him out bute for a long time before that with subtle side effects. Since previcoxx I have had no side effects he is happy relaxed piggy warmblood, shinny coat. I have been told previcoxx is allot gentler on the stomach.
                Last edited by Fharoah; Jan. 10, 2011, 09:53 PM. Reason: spelling


                  I second all of the above. I am a firm believer, and have always been advised by my vets, that horses get to a certain age where the benefits of daily Bute for comfort outweigh the potential ulcer risks. (plus, although it's certainly a risk, it's not THAT common, so if you've already had one horse get ulcers you're probably safe on the second one--that's how I prefer to think of it, although that often backfires on me and it turns out that I have two medical weirdos ).

                  But, I would really recommend trying Previcox--it is easier on the stomach, and I have seen it work really well for several horses.


                    Original Poster

                    Thank you all. I will ask about Previcoxx tomorrow. I seem to remember something about buying the dog version of Previcoxx for horses and it being less costly? Will have to search for that here. I will also start giving this mare the Cetyl-M that her BFF is getting. Certainly worked for our arthritic dog. Less discomfort is a two edged sword with this mare, as when she feels good she spins around like a winning reining horse and plays pretty hard, then is crippled the next day. She is an own daughter of the TB sire of QHs, Swift Solo.

                    My mare that had the ulcer showed no symptoms at all that she had an ulcer, so you don't know until the autopsy. On the other hand, no symptoms probably meant little discomfort from it.

                    For anyone with an old horse, the Teff hay is wonderful - I get very fine stemmed second cutting. It tastes sweet and she loves it equally to her leafy alfalfa. Even the darn dog wants to eat it, and only the Teff hay, not the good grass mix the others get.
                    Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                      previcoxx is the dog version of equioxx

                      They come in 57mg and 227mg. The 227mg is cheaper. I paid $130 for 60 tablets of 227mg which I cut into 1/4 dose so for me I got 240 doses of previcoxx for $130.

                      Good luck with your mare!


                        It's waaaay off-label, but gabapentin (Neurontin) is a human drug originally used as an anti-convulsant but also used for neuropathic pain. It is increasingly used in small animals and even in horses to supplement other pain control methods - IOW, it won't replace NSAID's but it could help. If your vet is a member of VIN (Veterinary Information Network), there are discussions on there of dosing, etc. - I don't think there's been much published in the formal literature yet on use in horses.

                        I agree that the quality of life benefits are almost undoubtedly far, far greater for using NSAID's than not at this point. Even without going for Equioxx, many horses have a high quality of life for years on daily bute.

                        Adequan is something else to consider if you can afford it (not many would, but it sounds like your grand old girl has quite the life).
                        The plural of anecdote is not data.
                        Eventing Yahoo In Training



                          Originally posted by Fharoah View Post
                          I would try equioxx/previcoxx. My vet sells me a 60 tablet 227mg which I cut in 1/4's.
                          It is a canine drug however they have formulated the same drug for horses now (in the US), but in paste form I believe, and for a MUCH higher price. As such, my vet recommended Previcoxx for one of my boys, who is currently unsound. We needed a long-term solution until we can re-evaluate in the spring, and so far so good. It cost me approx $16 every 3 weeks. ETA: I cut the 227mg tabs into 1/4's as well.

                          He is not so comfortable on it that he can do much more than exist as a pasture puff, but at least he is now a comfortable, sound, happy, perky, playful pasture puff for the time being, as opposed to the mopey, sad-looking, obviously sore young man we had before (sufficiently sore that he would shift his weight back to his hinds, which would stock up, and point that sore left front - something he does not do on the Previcoxx). We've even seen him trotting about in his field, and he certainly is obviously much more pain-free Prior he did not quite jog sound and especially not under duress. Now, he jogs amazingly sound (beautiful reach and floaty trot that wasn't there prior), though as I mentioned, he still cannot be ridden and even trimming his feet, by the time we get to the hind on the same side as the lame front, he's trying to take his foot away because he feels sore (though he will still jog relatively sound afterwards). It isn't a miracle worker, but it has made all the (noticeable) difference in quality of life for my boy - enough so that he is obviously happier and more comfortable. At the very least, I would like him comfortable for one last good summer he can enjoy, but hopefully we can fix him up come spring.

                          I was told by my vet that it did not have any of the side effects of Bute, but that it might be less effective for some horses. He asked me to put him on it for 2 weeks and see if I noticed a difference. We wouldn't have to worry about ulcers however, and no weight issues on it either. So far there has been a noticeable difference and he has been on it about 4 weeks. I would certainly consult my vet about it!
                          Last edited by naturalequus; Jan. 11, 2011, 10:00 AM.
                          ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                          ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                            I have found previcox to be better than bute. I've been able to cut way back on the amount given and she's moving better than ever. I do give the large tablets though (220mg?) and had to give them every day for 3 or more months to get this level of control. Her bloodwork has shown no side effects. But ulcer control is required.
                            Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                            Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                              Originally posted by summerhorse View Post
                              I have found previcox to be better than bute. I've been able to cut way back on the amount given and she's moving better than ever. I do give the large tablets though (220mg?) and had to give them every day for 3 or more months to get this level of control. Her bloodwork has shown no side effects. But ulcer control is required.
                              Well that is roughly the equivalent of 8 bute tabs. I would hope that would make the horse sound.
                              McDowell Racing Stables

                              Home Away From Home


                                One other thing I would encourage--experiment with different treatments, esp. over time. Just like some people swear by Advil and others by Aleve, different drugs work for different horses. So if Bute doesn't help, I would try Previcox, and if that doesn't help Naproxen, etc--if your horse doesn't get relief with one NSAID, don't rule out trying another, because there isn't one that is better than the other for every horse.


                                  I have a 28 year old mare that has been on B-L Solution for 9 years, and it does help her. Just started it with the 23 year old gelding also.

                                  On days that the mare is particularly gimpy, bute is used.

                                  I will ask the vet about previcox if she gets worse as she gets older.
                                  There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                                    Nothing wrong with bute as needed for quality of life. Usually in my hands, bute is the best for arthritis pain, but like someone said, our patients are individuals, so if one NSAID doesn't work, change the dose, try another etc. I wouldn't "alternate" NSAIDs though (too much potential for interactions) or alternate with aspirin - not a great analgesic in horses.

                                    I have used gabapentin in horses with some success. It is good for neuropathic pain and chronic pain (but there isn't much published on it yet). I usually use it with an NSAID for 5-7 days and then try and back off or discontinue the NSAID and continue the gabapentin for 6-8 weeks or indefinitely. The starting dose is 2.5 mg/kg PO BID, but you can go up to 10 mg/kg PO BID if needed. It's cheap, and I have found minimal side effects. It is excreted through the kidneys though, so might be a good idea to get baseline bloodwork first to make sure everything is OK.

                                    Adequan/Legend, Surpass, acupuncture etc. may all help as well. Hope your vet can help you out!


                                      Previcox has done wonders for my older, arthritic gelding. He has been on it for a year with no issues. He had ulcers once so Bute wasn't an option. Previcox is much easier on the stomach and our vets swear by it. He is ridden regularly and acts like a 10 year old (or younger). It is really great stuff.


                                        Pvcx, Glucose + HCL & MSM?

                                        I love this thread.
                                        I am doing my best to keep an arthritic horse comfy for as long as it wants. We are not sound, but have found noticeable improvement with pvcx. I also give a joint supp, "nimble supreme", 2 scoops/day.

                                        Question-- and I will ask my vet-- but can I add MSM to this? MSM is not on the numble label. I have never considered that.