To Bute or not to Bute:

It really isn’t a question, rhetorical or otherwise.  Bute (Phenylbutazone) is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID).  NSAIDs are useful in treating inflammation caused by a variety of injuries, they can be used to not only reduce the inflammation in soft tissues but also to reduce pain.

If your horse has been injured NSAIDs can be a very useful secondary treatment protocol to help your horse feel more comfortable while it recovers from an injury.  NSAIDs, like many other drugs, are, sadly, often abused.  Quite aside from masking an injury to allow a horse to compete when it really ought to be resting to recover from an injury there are many other instances of abuse.

Masking pain can encourage a wider range of motion than is appropriate to the horse’s recovery from injury.  Masking the pain can set the recovery process back by a significant order of magnitude.  Sometimes it is more appropriate for the horse to be allowed to “feel the pain” in order to slow t down during the injury recovery phase.

Excessive use of NSAIDs can have a host of side effects, mostly unintended.  Yet ironically many horse owners have a tub of powdered or liquid “Bute” in their tack box, prescribed by a vet.  I know I have a tub of powdered Bute that has been in my kit for a numbers of years.

As a former athlete, having competed in five half ironman races as well as a number of other sporting events, I am all too familiar with the healing process from sports related injuries.  And, I can tell you that a lifetime of Ibuprofen is definitely not a good, or appropriate, option for dealing with injuries.

Unfortunately some unscrupulous vets are treating the client, not the client’s horse.  If your vet ever suggests you treat your horse with drugs to numb the pain of a ride, either before or after, get a new vet!