What is Bute?

‘Bute’ – more correctly called phenylbutazone is one of the most commonly prescribed medicines used in equine practice. It belongs to the group of drugs that are known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). This is the same class that includes Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Phenylbutazone is primarily used in horses for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. It is particularly useful for the treatment of orthopaedic pain i.e. lameness, but is by no means confined to this.

Equipalazone is one brand name associated with phenylbutazone. It is usually administered in powder form mixed with feed but a paste is available as well. For horses that don’t like the taste,

Danilon (Suxibuzone) is an alternative, more palatable preparation. Danilon is broken down during digestion; the body changes it to the same drug with the same effect as Equipalazone. It is a prescription-only medicine and should only be used only under veterinary supervision as it does have some, all be it rare, side effects.

Each case must be assessed by a veterinary surgeon prior to treatment. Commonly it is used to treat arthritic conditions and laminitis.

Arthritis is the commonest reason that horses are given ‘bute’. This old hunter has some arthritis in its knee but is able to work normally and comfortably on 1g of ‘bute’ per day.

This horse has arthritis of the coffin joint – although no longer in work ‘bute’ helps it to enjoy a pain free retirement. ‘

Bute’ is one of the most effective treatments for chronic laminitis – as in this case – but should not be used to mask problems. Good farriery is needed here to restore normal foot balance.

‘Bute’ is one of the safest drugs on the market today. Literally millions of doses are administered to horses every year – adverse reactions when ‘bute’ is used within normal dose rates are virtually unheard of. When used over a prolonged period (i.e. years) ‘Bute’ can cause mild damage to the liver although this is uncommon. For any horses on a repeat prescription e.g. for chronic lameness, it would be a good idea to do an annual blood test. ‘Bute’ can also be associated with colon (large intestine) ulcers when used at high dose rates. Signs of this can include weight loss or fluid swelling around the abdomen and legs. If a horse shows any of these symptoms a veterinary surgeon should be consulted. Despite this, it is a very safe drug which provides the gold standard of pain relief in the horse. If you have any further questions please ask your veterinary surgeon.

Bute is not intended for use in horses intended for HUMAN CONSUMPTION. If Bute is EVER given to a horse then it can NEVER be sent for human consumption. So if you wish this drug to be available for use in your horse you MUST sign section IX of its passport.

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