Acetaminophen Can Be Used for Horse’s Laminitis Pain

Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network

Date Published: 02/16/2009
Date Reviewed/Revised: 09/05/2017

A new pain killer is being used in horses for laminitis and founder. Although the medication – acetaminophen or Tylenol – is new for horses, people use it regularly for pain but it has only been used rarely in horses. Part of the reason it is used rarely in horses is that no studies have been performed until recently. Dr. Jonathon Foremen from the University of Illinois tested acetaminophen for relief of foot pain in horses. Veterinarians commonly use bute or Banamine for pain control in horses, but these drugs can be dangerous, especially if used long term or in dehydrated horses, so the use of another drug is a welcome addition.

The study found that acetaminophen is absorbed from horse’s small intestine and cleared by the liver. Because overdosing of acetaminophen in humans commonly causes liver failure, it is important to know its effect in horses. The study involved eight horses that were made temporarily lame by using a special shoe. One group was given acetaminophen, one group Banamine, and one group received no medication. Both groups receiving Banamine and acetaminophen were less lame than those receiving no medications; the liver enzymes in the horses did not increase, suggesting there was no liver damage at this dose. Also, a clinical case of severe laminitis was treated with acetaminophen and the horse responded better than when the horse was on bute.