Equine NSAID Best Practices

Learn about a horse-health treatment option that can help relieve pain and inflammation.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Merial

The proper use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help keep your horse sound and performing well. Journal photo

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are typically used to treat conditions such as the pain and inflammation associated with equine osteoarthritis. Unlike NSAIDs used in human medicine, like ibuprofen, which can be purchased over the counter, NSAIDs in equine medicine are only available with a veterinarian’s prescription.

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When prescribing an NSAID, your veterinarian will consider the type needed for the horse’s specific ailment. Each horse and each ailment is treated separately, depending on the horse’s individual response to the treatment. Fortunately, veterinarians have options when prescribing NSAIDs and will prescribe the best option for each individual horse. Veterinarians will take into account the ailment, age of the horse, activity level of the horse and the route of administration - some NSAIDs are available in injection, topicals, paste, powder or tablets.

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While non-coxib NSAIDS have been used for years to treat equine osteoarthritis, EQUIOXX (firocoxib) is the only coxib NSAID approved for horses, and it controls the pain and inflammation associated with equine osteoarthritis. Horse owners and trainers have access to NSAIDs through their veterinarian with a prescription, and the veterinarian should be involved every time when determining if an NSAID should be used. Here are a few questions to ask your veterinarian if he or she determines an NSAID is needed:

  1. What is the correct dosage and route of administration?
  1. How often should the medication be administered?
  1. When should I stop giving the medication?
  1. How long before the medication takes effect?
  1. Are there any side effects to this medication?
  1. Should this medication be given with any other medications?

When giving any NSAID, it’s important to check dosage and administration guidelines. Talk to your veterinarian about NSAID options for your horse.

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As with any prescription medication, prior to use, a veterinarian should perform a physical examination and review the horse’s medical history. A veterinarian should advise horse owners to observe for signs of potential drug toxicity. As a class, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be associated with gastrointestinal, hepatic and renal toxicity. Use with other NSAIDs, corticosteroids or nephrotoxic medication should be avoided. EQUIOXX has not been tested in horses less than 1 year of age or in breeding horses, or pregnant or lactating mares. For additional information, please refer to the prescribing information or visit

®EQUIOXX is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2016 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQUIEQX1601 (08/16)

1 United States Equestrian Federation. NSAIDs and Your Horse. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2015.

2 Current Use of Analgesics for Colic. Available at: Accessed February 1, 2016.

3 Andrews F, McConnico R. Cause for concern: Evidence that therapeutic dosing of nonselective NSAIDs contributes to gastrointestinal injury. Equine Vet Education. 2009;21(12):663-664.

4 EQUIOXX product label.