Laminitic Mini In Pain

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I have a miniature mare with laminitis. She was doing great, and then a couple of months ago, she had a recurrence. I would like to get her off Banamine, which I've had to use way more than I want to. Would any non-drug pain relievers help and, if so, which ones and how much do I give her' My mare weighs about 300 pounds.?

Contributing Veterinary Editor? Grant Miller responds: I'm sorry to hear that your?mini horse has?laminitis.? Being a mini-horse owner myself, I've been through this many times with them.? Often, metabolic syndrome and/or Cushing?s disease can play?a role in the?unexpected occurrence?of laminitis in minis.? Keeping their weight under control is?definitely a huge player in the laminitis chess game.

Banamine is a wonderful drug for?laminitis pain, but it unfortunately can cause some serious side effects, such as gastric?ulcers?and colitis in?many cases of long-term use.? Although I haven't seen your mare, I can tell you that I have had success with several other treatments, both conventional and complementary, when managing my own laminitis cases.? These are some ideas to consider, research, and run past your veterinarian:

?1)? Previcox: Giving just 29 milligrams per day of this prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory?drug can go a long way to reducing inflammation in a mini?s feet.??This little pill was designed specifically for long-term anti-inflammatory care?and is engineered to?minimally harm the gastrointestinal tract.? A bonus:?It is inexpensive (about 50? per day) and only has to be given once every 24 hours.

2)? Acupuncture:? This is an ancient modality used to control pain and reduce inflammation.? it's been used all over the world successfully, and many horse?owners report that it helps laminitic horses.? Some of the most powerful acupoints on the body are located on the coronet bands.? Usually treatments have to be done every four to seven days, and I tell owners to give at least three to four treatments before deciding whether or not it's helping.

3)? Arnica: This plant, extract from the Sunflower genus, has been?shown to have?vasodiliatory effects (increases bloodflow) and has also been shown to reduce pain and?inflammation.? All of these effects are desirable in chronic laminitis cases.? The core chemicals, thymol and helenalin (a sesquiterpene lactone) are commonly used in anti-inflammatory preparations.

4)? Devil?s claw: A member of the sesame family native to South Africa, it's shown to have?potent anti-inflammatory effects. However, it's also been shown to cause the same type of?stomach and colon ulceration that Banamine and bute?do.? You may wish to put this at the bottom of your list of alternatives, because in my opinion, you would just be better off?with Banamine.

Gray-Horse Melanoma

Have you any information on melanomas in gray horses'? I have an 11-year-old gray Andalusian and am so sorry to see the melanomas coming on.? I've had a hard time finding any information on this. My veterinarian wants to try a new vaccine for dogs that deals with melanomas, but I am cautious as I understand there are side effects.? I don't want my big boy to be a test case.?

Contributing Veterinary Editor Deb Eldredge DVM responds: There are a number of concerns to look at here:

First, you're right. Research and treatments are limited, partially because horses are relatively cancer-free compared to many of our domestic animals. Next, where are the melanomas located' And are they causing problems'? My sister had a gray Quarter Horse years ago with a tennis-ball sized melanoma in the angle of her jaw from about the age of five. It never caused a problem and the mare lived a long, full life doing Pony Club, hunter/jumper and foxhunting. Depending on location, a melanoma can be very serious but not all are. If it's not a problem, you might consider leaving them.

Vaccines are designed to act against specific organisms or cell types. I'd guess He's considering the ONCEPT canine melanoma vaccine (DNA), a relatively new vaccine from Merial for dogs with malignant melanomas.

Whether the vaccine will work or not depends upon how closely the DNA for equine and canine melanomas is. If they're close, the vaccine may help. I don't have that information, but your veterinarian may, since He's suggested the vaccine.

If you choose to try the melanoma vaccine, your veterinarian will have you sign a release form since it is ?off label.? Then, both you and your veterinarian should keep detailed records so that any information from your horse may help other horses in the future. Remember, virtually all treatments have side effects of some sort.