NSAIDs: Are Any Easy On Equine Stomachs?

by | 08.13.2019 | 2:48pm

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are used frequently by equine owners and caretakers; they are second in use only to dewormers. NSAIDs are prescribed for a variety of reasons, including everything from recovery from surgery to lameness issues. While these drugs are extremely helpful in managing equine pain, they do have a fairly significant side effect: gastric ulcers, reports The Horse.

Dr. Lauren M. Richardson, a resident at Texas A&M University, created a study that compared the effect of NSAIDs phenylbutazone and firocoxib on gastric ulcers. NSAIDs reduce prostaglandins, which promote pain, fever and inflammation. Prostaglandins are made by enzymes called cyclooxygenases (COX). There are two main types: COX-1 and COX-2. COX-1 is always usually present in the equine body; it does things like promote blood clotting and protect the stomach lining. COX-2 is only present at certain times and causes pain, fever and inflammation.

When NSAIDs that block all prostaglandin production are given, stomach tissue can be damaged by stomach acid. There are meds that are COX-2 selective, but it isn't known if these NSAIDs cause less gastrointestinal distress than the broader-based NSAIDs.

Dr. Richardson and her colleagues compared firocoxib (a COX-2-selective NSAID) and phenylbutazone (a nonselective NSAID) to determine how much gastric ulceration (if any) each caused. The researchers tested for fecal myeloperoxidase, a protein released during inflammation, to determine if there was an lower GI tract injury.

For the study, 10 adult horses were assigned to either a firocoxib group, a phenylbutazone group or a placebo group. Treatments were given for 10 days and fecal samples were collected on days 0, 10 and 20.

At the end of the study, horses in both treatment groups had a significant increase in ulcers in the upper and lower region of the stomach compared to the horses in the control group. However, by day 10, the horses receiving phenylbutazone had significantly more-severe glandular ulcers than the horses given firocoxib. The scientists concluded that both phenylbutazone and firocoxib cause gastrointestinal inflammation and injury, but that firocoxib caused less-severe effects.

Read more at The Horse.

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