What is bute for horses? How to safely administer it at home

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Bute  for horses or as its known by its medical name  – phenylbutazone is a common pain killer and anti-inflammatory for horses and other animals. It’s a staple in most barns or equine first aid kits. Put simply its a go to horse medication for most horse owners when their horse is in need of a pain reliever.

What is bute for horses used for?

There are two main purposes for bute.
For the short term treatment of pain (analgesia) and the treatment of fever (antipyresis) in horses.
what is bute for horses

Bute is very effective for inflammation in horses

Pain treatment: Bute is used to treat the pain associated with infections & musculoskeletal disorders including:
  • Sprains
  • Overuse injuries
  • Tendonitis
  • Laminitis
  • Arthritis
Bute acts directly on musculoskeletal tissue to control inflammation. This alleviates pain, reduces secondary inflammation and restores motion. Bute is NOT an effective pain reliever for colic.
Fever Reduction: Bute’s antipyretic qualities can reduce fever symptoms and assist a horse’s recovery by encouraging eating & drinking. However, it may also mask other symptoms of an ill horse.

Recommended dosage:

Day 1 – (8.8mg/kg per day)  – Days 2 -5 (4.4mg/kg per day):

 N.B. Treatments should not exceed 5 consecutive days. 

Side effects of  phenylbutazone

Bute works well for horses for short-term pain relief, but can be toxic if used in too high of a dose.
Some adverse side effects include gastro intestinal ulcers, kidney damage oral lesions and internal haemorrhage.

Where do you get bute for horses?

Bute is available via prescription from your veterinarian or buy online

Things to note:

Bute becomes inactive in extreme heat – so don’t try and bake it into treats to make it more palatable for your horse.
Bute should be used cautiously in pregnant or lactating mares.
Not sure whether you need Bute or not? Check out this article to find out the common signals of a horse in pain.

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About Author

Betsy OReilly, Managing Editor of Blog Abler dedicated to Equine Ulcers. Born and bred in country Victoria, Australia, is a lifelong horse owner who has dabbled in Pony Club and Horse Racing. Enjoys hearing and writing about Equine Ulcers.

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