Horsemen have come to rely on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat a host of injuries--heat and swelling, aches and pains.
Most horses respond well to these drugs and suffer from little or no side effects. But in some cases, NSAIDs such as phenylbutazone ("bute") and flunixin meglamin (Banamine(r)) can cause bowel-wall inflammation or stomach ulcers. High doses given over extended periods or as preventatives in uninjured horses are the usual reasons NSAIDs do harm.
If you've been treating a horse long-term with NSAIDs due to chronic joint pain, for instance, consult with your veterinarian about other possible treatments that may lessen the potential for medication-trigger colics.
This article first appeared in EQUUS magazine.