Bute is a prescription drug, only to be dispensed by a licensed veterinarian. Only use this medication as directed by your veterinarian.
Phenylbutazone (Bute) is the most common NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) prescribed for horses. It is used frequently for musculoskeletal pain and inflammation in the horse, and it is very effective. See the Vet treatment for more information about this important drug.
Like all drugs, bute must be treated with respect. Used improperly, it can cause life threatening damage to the intestine and kidneys. Toxicity usually happens when horses are kept on too high a dose for too long. Occasionally, horses have adverse reactions from even low doses. Young or small horses are more likely to be overdosed. Bute is generally not used in young horses. It is not given in combination with other NSAIDS like flunixin (Banamine) because the toxic effects can be additive.
At recommended doses, most horses with chronic musculoskeletal pain can be given low doses of bute for long periods. In my practice I have many older horses that have been on low doses of bute daily for years. It has greatly helped their quality of life and obvious adverse effects are rare. That said, horses that are on long term bute administration for chronic conditions should be monitored periodically by a vet. Your vet may want to perform a physical exam on your horse, or run certain blood tests.
Bute comes in tablets, paste, powder, and injectable form. The tablet form is the cheapest, followed by the powder. There are many flavored powders on the market. Only one is FDA approved as of the time of this writing. The injectable form is to be given intravenously only. I never dispense it to clients. If any injectable bute escapes from the vein because of poor technique, it causes severe tissue damage.
Bute should be stored indoors and kept at relatively constant temperature. When using paste bute, be careful to ensure that you know how to measure a dose, and that the lock on the plunger is secure.
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