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News Article

Equine analgesics: survey of horse owners in the United States


Some horse owners purchase analgesics without having a veterinarian examine their horse first, a survey has found

A survey of 389 horse owners in the United States found that about 27% bought analgesics from non-compliant sources that would fall outside the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR).

Of all survey respondents: nearly 20% said they acquired analgesics from a feed store; nearly 13% acquired drugs from online or mail-order catalogues; and 5% received drugs from a veterinarian who had never examined their animal.

“By purchasing drugs online rather than from a veterinarian, owners miss many important aspects of a veterinary visit,” said Dr. Deb Sellon, a veterinarian at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “When you see your veterinarian, you are going to get the best drugs, the best information, the best recommendation - and your veterinarian can help ensure you are confident in administering the drugs.”

Sellon led the study, published in the Equine Veterinary Journal, with fellow researchers Macarena Sanz and Jamie Kopper, who is now at Iowa State University.

The survey found the most common drug horse owners had on hand was oral phenylbutazone, possessed by 87% of respondents.

Sellon said some of the survey’s most interesting findings were the drugs some owners had, like injectable xylazine, a large animal sedative. The drug has toxic effects at high doses for horses. It can also harm humans if ingested or even spilled on broken skin.

Nearly 8% of survey respondents said they had immediate access to injectable xylazine, and more than 12% said they administered the drug in the past two years.

Other common drugs like detomidine were also on-hand. Nearly 20% of owners said they had the gel form, which is dangerous to dogs and other animals. Nearly 27% said they administered the drug to their horses in the past two years.

Sellon said there needs to be conversation with owners who don’t realize how dangerous some drugs can be, especially when those drugs are purchased online and without consulting a veterinarian.

Article: Sellon, D. C., Sanz, M., Kopper, J. J. (2022). Acquisition and use of analgesic drugs by horse owners in the United States. Equine Veterinary Journal, advance online publication, doi: 10.1111/evj.13564

Article details

  • Date
  • 06 April 2022
  • Source
  • Washington State University
  • Subject(s)
  • Horses and other Equines