MILD TUMMY TROUBLE
The morning grain still untouched at noon was the first indication that something was wrong with Penny. As her owner took a closer look at the 9-year-old mare, the other signs of colic soon became obvious: She was sweating slightly, restless and preoccupied. The veterinarian soon arrived, and after a full diagnostic workup confirmed that the mare was most likely suffering from minor gut pain. A small dose of a particular NSAID might be enough to set her right.
While bute is the go-to NSAID for joint pain, flunixin meglumine---sold as Banamine---is our pharmaceutical first responder for colic. Flunixin can help relieve pain while reducing inflammation in the gut mucosa, which makes it reliably effective for colic. In mild cases of colic, this one-two punch is often enough to resolve the situation. Most of us have known a horse who will look a bit colicky, then perk up in about 45 minutes after a single dose of flunixin. It’s also the reason that many owners, under the guidance of a veterinarian,
will keep a tube on hand at the farm.
The dosage for Banamine paste is .5 milligrams per pound, which works out to about three doses per syringe. Banamine is also available as an intramuscular or intravenous injection. I generally advise a client to avoid giving it in the muscle because it has been associated with an increased risk of clostridial0 infections, even when delivered under clean conditions. Intravenous injections must be administered only by a licensed veterinarian or technician due to the risk of a potentially fatal intracarotid0 injection.
There is a disadvantage to treating colic with Banamine: It can mask pain so well that a potentially serious case may go undiagnosed. Pain is a significant indicator of the severity of colic and the need for surgery. Some owners give Banamine before a horse can be assessed by a veterinarian, but the true extent of the problem may go undetected for hours, with tragic results. Owners must exercise caution when giving a medication without the direction of a veterinarian, and that applies doubly for a horse with colic.