Dear Jessica, I have been discussing this with my vet and he said it would be fine if I wrote to you to ask for an explanation I can understand. I respect my vet very much, but we don't communicate very well. I think he prefers clients who know more than I do. I am always asking questions whenever he is here, but I usually don't understand the answers very well and when I tell him that, he just repeats what he already said when what I really want him to do is explain it! But he is a very good vet so I feel I am lucky anyway, and I usually look on the HORSE-SENSE web pages for explanations of things. This time I couldn't find one, so I am writing to you.
My mare was in a fight with a new mare next to her in the next paddock, and she came away with a hurt leg. I would have given her some Bute, only the other mare's owner said I shouldn't do that if she is in foal, which she is. I should give her Banamine instead. I didn't have any of that so I asked my vet, and he said that pregnant mares shouldn't get Bute and that if she was hurt I could give her Banamine. But when I looked up the two drugs online it seemed as if they are both anti-inflammatory drugs and are used for the same things so should have the same action (am I right?). I thought that it would be safer just to give her aspirin, so that's what I did. When I told him, he was clearly not very pleased with me, and said that aspirin could cause bleeding. I won't give her any more of that, but I'm still worried about the Banamine. I know you aren't a veterinarian but you know a lot about vet stuff, even my cranky vet says so. So would you please tell me if it's okay for my pregnant mare to have Banamine? I just want to be sure that it won't hurt my mare or her baby foal inside her, or after he arrives when he is nursing (can you tell that I want a colt?).
What I've learned is that Banamine (a US brand of flunixin meglumine) is very commonly used in pregnant mares. It's used when they need pain or inflammation relief because of an injury, and it's also given to some pregnant mares that are at risk for producing a lot of prostaglandins (that could put their pregnancies at risk). The Banamine interferes with the prostaglandin production, but - provided that it's given according to the manufacturer's guidelines - doesn't seem to have bad effects on the foetus or on the foal after its birth. According to the manufacturer of Banamine, the drug will not get into the mare's milk, and thus won't affect the nursing foal.
Nobody wants to create problems by administering unnecessary drugs to a pregnant mare, and it's safest to avoid using drugs if you can, but that isn't always possible. Sometimes there are situations where drugs ARE necessary. It's a case of benefit versus risk - if your mare is reasonably comfortable, it would be silly to give her Banamine to try to make her MORE comfortable - there wouldn't be all that much benefit to offset the risk. If she's in a lot of pain, to the point where she's producing lots of prostaglandins (which could put the pregnancy at risk) and/or if she's moving so oddly to protect her injured leg that she's likely to develop a compensatory lameness in another leg, then using Banamine to relieve her pain makes good sense.
I hope you'll let me know how everything works out! Fingers crossed that you'll send me a note in a few months, telling me that your sound, comfortable, happy mare just delivered a sound, healthy, completely normal foal.
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