Anti-Inflammatory Medications to Keep on Hand at Horse Farms and Stables

Last Updated on March 11, 2022 by Allison Price

Horse owners are well aware that horses can be prone to musculoskeletal injuries. This can lead to pain and lameness. Colic can be caused by intestinal inflammation. There are many medications that can be used to stop the inflammation cycle. There are many drugs that target the inflammatory cycle.

It is a good idea to keep medications handy so that you can give your veterinarian advice if necessary. There are many anti-inflammatory medications that you can use on horses. Let’s take a look at some of them and see how they can be used best.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drogues (NSAIDs),

The most common medication to reduce inflammation is the NSAIDs. They work by blocking the prostaglandin cycling that is part the inflammatory cascade. These medications include a) Phenylbutazone (“bute”), b) Flunixin (Banamine), c) Ketoprofen, and d) Firocoxib. Other medications that are less commonly used include meclofenamic (for musculoskeletal problems) and aspirin (for eye problems).

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

The effects of the first three members of this group on COX-1 and COX-2 inflammation components are combined and can have adverse effects on the stomach, colon, and kidney function. They interfere with the “good”, prostaglandins, which produce protective mucus to the lining of your gastrointestinal tract. Firocoxib, which is a COX-2-only NSAID means that it does not interfere with the gastrointestinal prostaglandins in the same way as the other NSAIDs.


The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of corticosteroids (or “steroids”) are well known. They also have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Therefore, they are best used to treat acute conditions such as insect hypersensitivity, shock, chronic obstructive lung disease (heaves), or snake bite. Prednisolone and dexamethasone are two common examples of useful steroids that you might have.

Joint Products

Adequan, a well-known joint product, has anti-inflammatory properties. Hyaluoronate (Legend) is another joint product that can be administered intravenously to help with joint pain and lameness management.

Topical Anti-Inflammatory Medicines

DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide), a powerful anti-inflammatory drug, can be applied topically on a swollen region to reduce inflammation and pain. Some horses may experience irritation due to DMSO.

Surpass (diclofenac salt) cream is an FDA-approved topical NSAID. It can penetrate the skin and reach the areas below to provide local anti-inflammatory effects. This is especially important for osteoarthritis. To avoid skin contact, gloves should be worn when applying.

The Armamentarium

You may also be familiar with other medications, which are not necessarily antiinflammatories but target pain pathways.

Take-Home Message

These drugs are especially useful for treating inflammation. Each drug has its own side effects so make sure to consult your veterinarian before you use them.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!