Horse Owner Survey Shows NSAID Use Trends

In a recent survey, 96% of respondents said they used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control the joint pain and inflammation in horses, and 82% administer them without always consulting their veterinarian. More than 1,400 horse owners and trainers were surveyed to better understand attitudes toward NSAIDs, in a project sponsored by Merial, the maker of Equioxx (firocoxib).

"The survey results gave us credible and valuable information about horse owners' use and knowledge regarding the most common NSAIDs available today," said Frank Hurtig, DVM, MBA, director of Veterinary Services at Merial. "We gleaned new, interesting information about the reasons horse owners administer NSAIDs, their concerns, and their experiences with the different NSAID medications."

Survey participants included members and competitors across disciplines and breed organizations, including the American Quarter Horse Association, Palomino Horse Breeders of America, and United States Eventing Association.

With so many horse owners and trainers using NSAIDs, it's important to keep in mind the risks associated and evaluate the options available, Hurtig said.

Survey participants were asked questions about how they administer NSAIDs to their horses. Some of the key results include:

  • 96% of respondents have used NSAIDs to control pain and inflammation;
  • 93% reported using NSAIDs to control inflammation, while 92% used NSAIDs to treat lameness;
  • 68% of owners and trainers were concerned with gastric ulcers and 38% were concerned with renal/kidney failure when administering NSAIDs;
  • Only 17% of owners and trainers said they were very confident with the safety of phenylbutazone (bute);
  • 75% of owners administered NSAIDs to horses between the ages of 2 and 10; 72% of owners administered NSAIDs to horses more than 10 years old;
  • 82% of respondents have used an NSAID without directly consulting their veterinarian;
  • 14% of participants administered an NSAID for fewer days than what a veterinarian recommended;
  • 6% reported using a lower amount of NSAID than recommended by a veterinarian.

"The results show the overwhelming use of NSAIDs and range of concerns when using them," Hurtig said. "It's important to consult with a veterinarian and follow his or her recommendations to provide the best result."

Merial manufactures Equioxx, the first equine oral NSAID to be approved in the United States in more than 20 years. Equioxx is proven to control the joint pain and inflammation associated with equine osteoarthritis, which is one of the most common causes of lameness in horses. In studies, Equioxx was shown to be well-tolerated on the gastrointestinal, hepatic, and renal functions when used at the recommended dose.

"Our survey results show that NSAIDs are the most common form of treating pain and inflammation," Hurtig said. "With the inherent risks in all NSAIDs, it's important to consider options that work with your needs and your veterinarian's recommendations."

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