After the first foray into dispelling some myths about popular horse first aid essential Phenylbutazone, we have received some requests for the other most popular equine med: Banamine.
Banamine is the brand name of the generic drug flunixin meglumine, but Banamine was the only brand name of the medication available for quite some time, and so the name stuck. Other brand names of flunixin are Flunixamine and Cronyxin. For the purpose of this post, we will use the the name Banamine to refer to all flunixin products.
Banamine is a non-sterodial anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) the same as phenylbutazone (Bute), but it has different properties and uses.
Banamine is most often used for the relief of muscle or joint disease and pain associated with colic. It is a potent pain reliever and also has antipyretic (fever reducing) properties.
The following are a few points we think “You Oughta’ Know” about Banamine.
1) Banamine has a fast onset.
Studies show that when given orally in a paste or powder form, Banamine starts producing effects within two hours with peak periods of relief between 12-16 hours. The duration is generally 24-36 hours.
With IV injections, some studies report that the drug is active within 15 minutes. Banamine has been shown to provide relief from colic pain in 15-30 minutes, but may take days to be effective for musculoskeletal pain.
2) Banamine provides more potent pain relief than Bute.
Banamine is almost four times stronger than Bute on a mg to mg basis for pain relief, however your veterinarian should adjust for potency with the dosage size (higher dose of Bute will then equal a smaller dose of Banamine). Banamine is far superior for relief of colic pain than Bute, although the reason is not known. Bute is more effective for the relief of musculoskeletal pain.
3) Again, Banamine is a prescription drug, available only through a veterinarian.
Although you may have leftover doses that you wish to give a colicky horse rolling around in pain – Don’t. Always consult your veterinarian before administering even one dose to your horse. Banamine may be very effective at reducing or eliminating your horse’s pain - but it is not fixing the problem – it is only masking symptoms. You may see your horse stop all signs of colic, only to find them in critical condition – or dead- in the morning. Your vet will be able to advise you whether it is acceptable to give your horse Banamine for the colic symptoms they are showing.
4) Adverse effects are possible.
There are adverse effects with the use of Banamine, but not as common as with Bute. With all NSAIDS, including Bute and Banamine, there are risks of gastric and colonic ulcers developing, as the medications limit the actions of prostaglandins in the body, including healthy and much needed prostaglandins which protect the gut lining.
5) Banamine is given to pregnant mares, and significant amounts will not pass through to the milk of lactating mares. Still – consult your veterinarian before giving pregnant or lactating mares any amount of Banamine.
6) Banamine is not toxic like Bute.
They are both intended to be used at low doses for a short amount of time for the most benefit and least adverse effects for your horse. However, Banamine showed no toxicity in horses even when give at three times the recommended dosage for twice the recommended period of time. Although no toxicity was observed, other side effects such as ulcers and kidney damage may be occuring. The point is, that the dosage window for Banamine is slightly larger than the extremely small one for Bute.
7) The IM Injection.
This is the most hotly debated aspect of Banamine for horses. Yes, your vet may tell you that you can adminster Banamine to your horse through an intra-muscular (IM) injection. For the majority of horses this is a viable option. However, in some cases, IM injections of Banamine have lead to thousands of dollars in vet bills and fatalities. The reason is that the IM injection may be quite irritating to the skin tissue and cause reactions such as localized swelling, sweating and stiffness.
There are also spores of bacteria that lie dormant in healthy muscle called Clostridium. They can begin to multiply if the muscle is damaged (such as during an injection). NSAIDS are acidic and cause local tissue damage. These Colstridial infections cause bacterial toxins which severely damage the muscle and perpetuate the spread of these anerobic (not requiring oxygen) bacteria. These infections are extremely severe, and require immediate emergency veterinary care. The areas of infection must be surgically opened up to let air circulate in, which means the cuts are sometimes through muscle and down to the bone.
Although this side effect is considered rare, it is a real possibility anytime you administer an IM injection of Banamine. There are no such side effects when Banamine is given orally or as an IV injection.
~ We would like to thank Dr. Suzon Schaal and Dr. Trisha Dowling for their insight and the “vet proof” of this post.