Last Updated on March 14, 2023
If your horse has a lameness problem, your friends may suggest a course of Previcox to help relieve pain. But does Previcox for horses long-term use have any risk or potential side effects? Or is it a safe way to keep your horse comfortable and free from pain? Let’s find out!
What is Previcox for Horses?
Previcox is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication licensed for use by veterinarians. There has been some controversy about the administration of Previcox to horses, so firstly we need to clear up exactly what it is and how it is prescribed!
Previcox is a trading name used by drug manufacturing companies for their product. The active ingredient of Previcox is a drug called Firocoxib, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). This means it is a drug that is administered to relived pain and reduce inflammation, and in the US is only licensed to be prescribed to dogs.
Other drug companies also manufacture medications containing Firocoxib, and one of the most well-known is a paste called Equioxx. This was much more expensive than generic Previcox, so in the past, some horse owners would try to get Previcox tablets for dogs instead. Unfortunately, in most situations, it was not legal for veterinarians to prescribe Previcox, as it was not licensed for horses.
Luckily, in recent years, things have changed! In some countries, Previcox tablets are now licensed for both dogs and horses, and in others, the manufacturers have released Equioxx in tablet form for horses.
This means that horse owners now have the option of giving the drug Firocoxib to horses in a more cost-effective tablet form, rather than expensive pastes. Depending on your location, these tablets may be called Previcox or Equioxx.
But please remember that in most cases it is illegal for your veterinarian to dispense Previcox for dogs rather than the equine form, even if it is cheaper to do so. Your horse will not be covered for any adverse reactions by the drug manufacturer, so please do not ask your veterinarian if you can switch to the canine version. Your veterinarian may also be liable to prosecution from the relevant authorities and could potentially lose their license to practice veterinary medicine.
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What is Previcox for Horses Used For? – Long-term Use of Previcox for Horses
Previcox (Firocoxib, Equioxx) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication used to reduce musculoskeletal pain and inflammation. It is an effective short-term treatment for arthritis and other skeletal disorders, and can also be given to horses recovering from surgery or trauma.
Like all NSAIDs, Previcox works by blocking the signals from nerves that tell the central nervous system that they feel pain. They also reduce swelling, which will make the horse feel more comfortable. The short-term use of previcox for horses with arthritis can help to ease pain and inflammation in the joints.
Your veterinarian may prescribe a course of Firocoxib if your horse has sudden onset acute lameness, or has sustained a wound or injury. This medication should never be given without the prior authorization of your veterinarian, as it can have some unpleasant side effects. So, if a well-meaning friend offers you some of their ‘leftover’ Previcox, it is best to decline politely and speak to your veterinarian instead.
Previcox for Horses Long-Term Use – Pros & Cons
Many horse owners think that Previcox for horses can be given for long periods – after all, in dogs with arthritis, it is often recommended as a life-long medication. However, in horses, this is not the case, and it is only licensed to be given for 14 days.
The reason for this is that Firocoxib can cause unpleasant and long-lasting disorders of the digestive system if administered for long periods. These side effects may not be immediately apparent, and symptoms may not be observed until the damage is very extensive. Horses that receive long-term courses of NSAIDs can also suffer from irreversible kidney failure.
This means that if a horse were to be prescribed a course of Previcox for longer than the recommended 14-day period, your veterinarian would need to carry out regular monitoring of your horse to check for unwanted side effects. This may include blood tests at regular intervals to check for early signs of gastrointestinal or kidney disorders.
It may be that your veterinarian weighs up the pros and cons of long-term use of Previcox for your horse, and decides that the benefits outweigh the risks. In this situation, a longer course of Previcox may be prescribed, but this will commonly be at a lower dose. It is becoming more and more common to find horses with long-term conditions such as arthritis that have been prescribed a longer course of Previcox.
So, however tempting it may be, never give any form of NSAID to your horse without veterinary advice first! You may be doing more harm than good in the long run, so it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Can you give bute and previcox together?
Before newer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs came on the market, the most common medication for horses in pain was bute, more correctly known as phenylbutazone. Bute was commonly given as pain relief for short-term and long-term medical conditions, but it could cause some unpleasant side effects.
But when it comes to Previcox vs bute, what is the difference? These two drugs are actually very similar – they block pain in the same way and have the same level of efficacy. Bute is normally given as a powder or paste, while Previcox comes in paste or tablet form.
In terms of safety and potential side effects, Previcox is believed to be the safer option with a lower risk of problems occurring within the gastrointestinal tract. However, the use of either of these medications may be detrimental to your horse’s health, and they should only ever be used under veterinary supervision.
So, if Previcox or bute is no longer enough to keep your horse’s pain under control, can you use the two drugs together? Combining any two pain-relieving medications in horses is very risky, and you should never give Previcox and bute together unless advised to by your veterinarian.
Previcox and bute work in very similar ways to block pain, and because of this, using them together will not necessarily be effective. However, by giving both drugs you will double the chance of potential side effects! In one study, Horses that were given a ten-day course of Previcox and bute were shown to have early signs of kidney disease. These horses did not show any clinical signs of disease, so if the medication had continued kidney function could have been permanently impaired.
If your horse’s pain is not under control, your veterinarian is more likely to prescribe an alternative type of painkiller that works differently from bute and Previcox. The science of pain management in horses is a fine art and relies on using the lowest doses of various drugs to keep your horse’s pain under control. Pain can be blocked at various points along the central and peripheral nervous systems, and using the correct combination of drugs is key to achieving this.
Summary – Long-term Use of Previcox for Horses
So, as we have learned, Previcox for horses is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug prescribed by veterinarians to treat musculoskeletal pain. Like all NSAIDs, care should be taken when giving them to your horse for extended periods, as they can have some unpleasant and long-lasting gastrointestinal side effects. Previcox is a prescription-only medication, and should only be given with the prior authorization of your veterinarian.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the long-term use of Previcox for horses! Have you encountered unwanted side effects in a horse that was on a long-term course of painkillers? Or perhaps you’ve found a way to successfully reduce the dose of Previcox to minimize the risk of side effects? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
How long can a horse stay on Previcox?
Previcox is licenced for horses for periods of 14 days at a time. If your horse needs a longer course than this, your veterinarian will need to assess your horse at regular intervals to check for unwanted side effects.
Can Previcox be used long term?
Previxoc is licenced for long-term use in dogs but not in horses. Your veterinarian will prescribe an initial course of treatment for one or two weeks, then reassess your horse to see if longer-term medication is required.
Can a horse live on Previcox?
While Previcox is thought to be safer in some ways than other NSAIDs such as phenylbutazone, horses should not live on it unless there is no other alternative. Previcox can be given during end-of-life care to keep a horse comfortable, but in other situations the risk of side-effects outweighs the benefits of long-term Previcox.
What are the side effects of Previcox?
Previcox in horses can cause unwanted side effects that affect the gastrointestinal system and kidneys. You may see gradual weight loss and loss of condition, such as poor coat condition and lethargy.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE