Equine Pain Management: Readers Share Their Tools

More than 1,350 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, "What do you use for pain management?"

results of poll on pain and anti inflammatory treatment

Results were as follows: 
  • Phenylbutazone (Bute) 85.33% (1,175)
  • Flunixin meglumine (Banamine) 53.38% (735)
  • Anti-inflammatory herbs 17.79% (245)
  • Alternative treatments 14.52% (200)
  • Other 10.31% (142)
  • 1% Diclofenac sodium (Surpass) 7.12% (98)
  • Firocoxib (Equioxx) 5.88% (81)

Readers shared what they keep in their tack room in the comments below.

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  • Using yucca and MSM have helped my mare with her arthritis.
  • I have used the three I have checked. I find that Equioxx is more gentle on the stomache.
  • Quadrisol; Recovery EQ
  • I have succesfully used magnets on my horse and others for years, especially foot problems.
  • For long term pain management, vet recommended Advil. It seems to work well.
  • Aspirpaste
  • depends on the circumstances. Love Zeel tabs and oinment.
  • acupuncture, massage
  • banamine and other drugs, depending on the condition being treated.
  • B L paste
  • ASPIRIN
  • B-L Pellets are great, and work as well as bute for chronic pain. Keep bute on hand for injuries.
  • ANIPRIN
  • phenylbutazone in combination with dexamethazone works very well in pain due to musculo skeletal inf
  • I love equioxx! My colic prone mare is a new woman on it!
  • I highly value rest--shows can wait. Horse's health comes first.
  • also, acupuncture and chiropractic
  • Devils claw for chronic arthritic or inflammatory pain
  • Cosequin
  • It depends on the horse and the pain
  • Devils Claw
  • chiropractic and massage
  • yucca has worked wonders!
  • Medication should only be used for relief, never to enhance performance!
  • what ever the vet recommends =BUT NOT 'BUTE'
  • yucca
  • Chiropractic
  • hot or cold treatments
  • Depends on the condition
  • ketoprohine
  • Use Banamine
  • Applied massage
  • FAR infrared leg wraps; rest, equine somatics
  • I have had good results with Accupunture for chronic hock issues.
  • Devil's Claw
  • Chiropractic, massage therapy
  • i go by what my veterinarian prescribes
  • Only as dictated by my Vet
  • It all depends on what where when and how!
  • Varies depending on what is going on with Horse
  • Magnets and Massage
  • my vet has given me shots to manage pain in injured horses
  • Aspirin 350mg per 100wt crushed split between 2 feedings. Also feed a stomach buffer!
  • If pain and swelling, either ice and/or cold hose.
  • I use herbs, and a photonic light
  • Use bute and banamine judiciously ---
  • Ace is arthritic therefore I use what is available for
  • prevacox- my horse eats it out of my hand!
  • Depends on what the pain is and where
  • Conventional and chiro-acupuncture
  • Yucca schidigera
  • banamine if it's colicy
  • For daily maintenence I have used equine asprin as a feed additive
  • Bromelain contained in joint supplement
  • I just switched from bute to this, they say it is safer on their stomachs, but more money
  • If needed - Bute for aches & pains, banamine for belly, Release for pulls, strains, bruises.
  • Sulfa
  • Whatever the vet recommends
  • Acupuncture
  • physiotherapy manual techniques
  • We consistently use bantamine for colic symptoms and we use bute for situations that deal with traum
  • 99% of trainers in Alberta use Bute
  • asessment of the cause, then what ever I feel would be the best treatment
  • MSM
  • rarely have to use it Thank God!!!!
  • bute has always worked for short term pain killer
  • adequan
  • depends on cause- founder- banamine or bute briefly, then alternative therapy
  • BL granules
  • I use a gameready cold compression system daily post workout for injur prevention & pain/inflamation
  • i just heard about Equioxx, and would like more info on it.
  • Joint supplements
  • Bute and Banamine only if absolutely necessary
  • also use asequan and legend
  • I have always used bute or banimine for treating pain depending on what kind of pain it is.
  • Rest and lots of it if needed
  • Only used when horse needs pain management due to injury.
  • I only use these medicaitons when they are provided by the vet.
  • I have a horse allergic to bute, so just much easier to treat everyone with banamine
  • MSM
  • I use DCY
  • I use Antiflam for my 27 yr old with sore joints.
  • I don't use any pain medication without first checking with my vet, even if it is over the phone.
  • Legend
  • ASPIRIN
  • B-L Solution
  • only when needed and in moderation
  • It's exciting to have new products like EQUIOXX that have been proven safe!
  • DMSO, MSM,
  • B-L solution, massage, heat/ice, also arnica montana
  • Hylartin, Legend, Adequan, and Kenalog
  • yucca
  • joint supplement for joint pain and stiffness
  • Keep bute and banamine on hand. If neither help we call the vet.
  • Depends on the type of pain...ice, heat, chiropractics, message, etc.
  • pain is a symptom treat the problem
  • BL-Solution
  • B-L Solution
  • Only if necessary... can cover symptoms and cause more damage
  • First I use the herbals and go to the drugs only if I have to
  • bute most commonly-vet recommends banamine on hand for potential colic situation
  • herbal
  • I haven't had much luck with herbal pain treatments.
  • Depends on what is causing the pain
  • B-L solution works well w/ chronic prob. to avoid bute problems
  • massage
  • I use homeopathy first
  • cold and heat
  • B-L Solution, Linement
  • MSM
  • acupressure point at tip of ears
  • B-L solution.
  • With three old horses, I'm dealing with miscellaneous chronic conditions.
  • Torbugesic
  • homeopathic remedies first usually
  • What the vet prescribes
  • Bute if real sore, Surpass and Equioxx for inflamtion.
  • Depends on the cause of the pain
  • devils claw
  • It depends source of pain Banamine, cold therapy if injury, little bute,confinement
  • depends on the source of the pain
  • heat, ice and massage
  • Whatever vet recommends for acute injuries, really like Devils Claw for retired horses w/ arthritis
  • I use bute or banamine in cases of immediate injury that will result in swelling.
  • I keep paste aspirin on hand, but will go to more potent remedies if situation calls for them
  • acupuncture, chiropractic
  • our vet has us use the dog version of equivoxx - its previcox. 1/2
  • acupuncture has been working on my mare with back problems
  • Equispirin (equine aspirin)
  • msm
  • Arthrisoothe-P
  • linaments and such
  • Yucca and Devils Claw
  • naproxen sodium 5000mg
  • aspirin
  • so far i've been lucky enough to not have to use drugs for pain :P
  • I follow my vet's instructions he wrote out for me when giving me extra to have on hand
  • I just took in an older mare and put her on MSM
  • Mineral Ice and MSM help as well
  • have been very diligent instable management so haven't had to use either of them much.
  • Bute immediately immediately, but for a very short time. Then I switch to herbs.
  • Draw, cold hosing, wraps
  • I consult with my vet, and follow her advice.
  • I'm sort of a coward, so if I can't fix it with a course of bute, call the vet...
  • magnesium is my god in this department
  • REST, ice, wraps, & massage
  • joint supplements included?
  • I use a herbal product that has no side affects if used longterm for laminitus like bute does.
  • Buscopan for colic
  • MSM, equine chiropratic and equine massage therapy
  • chiropractor
  • whatever the vet prescribes
  • Prevention
  • homeopathics, stertch/massage, enforced exercise (even just walking)
  • Depends on whats hurting or injured
  • gloucusomine, chondrotin, Hylaronic Acid
  • Daily dose of the lowest amount of aspirin for my arthritic mare, liniment, ice packs, poultice
  • Adequan
  • For chronic back problems, a chiropractor/acupuncturist is our best friend!
  • I think Banamine works the best for most pain, but it is so expensive compared to Bute!
  • regular Chiro adjustments
  • It depends on what is causing the pain. I've used bute, banamine, and herbs.
  • Whatever my vet recommends
  • For colic nothing beats Banamine, for Influenza/fever Bute is best. We use Herbal (B-L Solution)
  • special medicine for horse who is allergic to bute
  • Duralactin
  • Bute works all the time!
  • for arthritis pain I use asperease two,along with hylarunic acid.
  • Echinacea and Tea Tree Oil
  • Drugs Only for emergency. Cold water wash, warm water soak and massage work too
  • cold water baths
  • Wish there were more. Better.
  • AspirEase (aspirin)
  • We have a senior citizen donkey that has arthritis and requirs pain meds during cold wet weather.
  • Ice packs, cold hosing, rest & TLC
  • massage & chiropracter
  • I use arnica tabs and cream for minor injuries where bute is not allowed
  • Devil's Claw and Yucca
  • tablets daily in the feed
  • asprin
  • We Stop Colic
  • For feet , bandage & pad. For muscles alternate ice therapy or cold hosing & warm pads
  • depends on the severity and duration of the pain
  • Asprin
  • RecoverEQ (pain & inflammation), but takes 1-2wks to kick-in & is NOTICEABLE
  • The above while treating the cause.
  • Accupunture works well when drugs may not.
  • Cold water and ice
  • McLaren Photonic Torch (acupuncture without needles) , and traditional acupuncture
  • Flunixin - when pain is sever - DMSO - most of the time it is great for athritis in horses
  • equinox to help with stiffness in my barrel racer
  • deep muscle therapeutic massage, ice, or ice before drugs
  • aspirin
  • The cause of pain determines the management
  • But only when absolutely necessary
  • I have 2 retired TB runners which do fine without meds for healed injuries
  • I have also ;used Capsaicin for older arthritic joints.
  • herbal product containing devil's claw for arthritis management
  • Buffered asprin
  • Banamine paste only.. No Injections!!
  • Bute and ice for inflamation, banamine for colic.
  • I use Bute, but would use something else if recommended by my vet
  • msm as an additive to dynamite free and easy
  • depends on the source of pain
  • or whatever the vet give me!
  • mainly use bute - if more severe -use suggestions from the vet
  • KETOPROPHEN - COMPOUNDED INTO A POWDER - much more effective - safer and easier on the Tummy than Bu
  • Depending on the situation, that dictates what I use and how.
  • BL Solution
  • joint injections, adequan
  • Arnica
  • B-L pellets
  • pergolide
  • B-L pellets
  • aspirin, MSM
  • follow vet's advice - keep both Bute & Banamine on hand
  • only per veterinarian's instruction
  • aspirin, MSM, B-L soulution cover almost all our situations
  • moist heat can be a wonder
  • BL Solution
  • I consult with my vet.
  • acupuncture
  • Massage and chiropractic
  • asprinin
  • msm
  • Get the vet out to see what the problem is. None of my horses are in pain.
  • Use as little as possible
  • veterinarian
  • Herbs for pain and circulation: White willow, jiaogulan
  • My horses also respond to Reiki treatments for relaxation and pain management.
  • FIrst choice is an herbal bute substitute.
  • My horse is laminitic. I use Bute for the initial onset of a flare, then anti-inflammatory herbs.
  • Depends on the pain-cuts are different from colic pain and stress injuries.
  • time off or theraputic massage
  • have used a product called Vaximine EQ and had good results
  • I use massage therapy as well.
  • rest
  • Free Flowin fron Herbs of the World
  • We use two products made by Heel: Zeel & Traumeel
  • I hate it when my horses are in pain& try to relive it fast.
  • anti imflam's for arthritis
  • Bute for arthritic pain, Banamine for colic pain
  • I never give pain meds without first consulting my veterinarian, EVER!
  • Robaxin
  • DMSO
  • HAcid/MSN
  • Per my vets recomendations
  • chrondroprotect
  • DMSO
  • Cold water therapy and walking/stall confinement as needed
  • Cold & heat Tx
  • I always consult with my vet before administering medication.
  • Meclofenamic sodium
  • With a 30 yr. old horse it's all about quality of life. Alternatives didn't work; Bute does.
  • Ice, massage therapy.
  • Depends on situation if vet not needed, vet orders if vet saw horse,
  • EQUIOXX had terrible reactions only tested on 238 horses !!!! BAD BAD BAD.. left over Vioxx...
  • I use it only to reduce inflammation or in acute pain--never to perform under the influence of

About the Author

Megan Arszman

Megan Arszman received a Bachelor of Science In print journalism and equine science from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and loves combining her love of horses, photography, and writing. In her “free time,” when she’s not busy working as a horse show secretary or riding her American Quarter Horses on her parents’ Indiana farm, she’s training and competing her Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Swedish Vallhund in dog agility and running.

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