Firocoxib Dose for Navicular Pain and Osteoarthritis Established

When it comes to pain management in horses, the words "osteoarthritis" and "phenylbutazone" seem to work in tandem. But not all veterinarians are sold on the routine use of this drug in horses.

Phenylbutazone is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-pyretic properties. Unfortunately, it also has known side-effects, including nephrotoxicity (toxic to the kidneys) and intestinal ulceration.

In contrast, newer NSAID firocoxib, designed specifically for horses, has fewer treatment-related adverse events than phenylbutazone and is effective at reducing lameness.

In a new study, "The use of force plate measurements to titrate the dosage of a new COX-2 inhibitor in lame horses," Willem Back, DVM, Cert. Pract. KNMvD (Equine Practice), PhD, Spec. KNMvD (Equine Surgery), Dipl. ECVS, from the Faculty of Veterinary medicine at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, and associate veterinary researchers, described the use of a force plate to determine the optimal dose of firocoxib in horses with osteoarthritis.

A force plate is a specialized piece of gait analysis equipment capable of objectively detecting subtle changes in loading and unloading of the limb to evaluate lameness.

Back and colleagues used the force plate in 64 horses with chronic lameness due to osteoarthritis, including navicular disease. Horses were treated with various doses of firocoxib (ranging from 0 to 0.25 mg/kg administered orally) and changes in lameness before and after treatment were analyzed.

According to the authors, 0.1 mg/kg firocoxib administered orally once daily was considered, "to be the effective dose at reducing lameness in horses presumed due to osteoarthritis, including navicular disease."

The study was published in the March 2009 edition of the Equine Veterinary Journal. The abstract is available on PubMed.  

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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