Most horse people are familiar with flunixin meglumine, known to many by a popular trade name, Banamine. Banamine comes in an injectable form for intravenous or intramuscular use. It can also be given orally in the paste or granule forms. Banamine is in the same category of drugs as aspirin and phenylbutazone (bute). They are all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Banamine is a prescription drug. Many horse owners keep it on hand because it is an effective medication for colic. It relieves pain, and in some of the more serious cases of colic, fights some of the dangerous toxins that may be released from the intestinal system into the bloodstream. No one knows why Banamine has this anti-endotoxic effect.
It is always best to consult with your veterinarian before giving Banamine to a horse. Always take the rectal temperature before giving the drug, as it may mask a fever. In addition, take the heart rate if you can. It is essential to have a veterinarian examine a horse that you suspect is dehydrated before you consider administering this drug – giving Banamine to a dehydrated horse can result in irreversible kidney disease. A veterinarian can re-hydrate the horse with fluids before administration of the drug, thus avoiding these side effects. Banamine can also cause kidney disease in horses that have tied up. Severe cases should be overseen by a veterinarian.
Banamine is such an effective pain medication for colic that it can make a horse appear less ill than it really is. A well-meaning individual who gives a full dose of the drug may be led in to a false sense of security – the horse will have great pain relief but may have a deteriorating condition that goes undetected because it seems to be doing so well.
Veterinarians dose cautiously with Banamine when treating for colic. They are careful not to use so much of the drug that it masks the signs of the patients that are going to worsen and require more aggressive therapy. Depending on the individual situation, keeping Banamine on hand may be a good idea. It is also a good idea to be well educated in its use and to consult with a vet about dosage before giving it to a horse. A final note – young horses are prone to gastrointestinal side effects from Banamine and all other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Always consult a vet before administering them to any horse under the age of two.