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Don’t Piss Off Your Vet: Bute vs. Banamine

Banamine or Bute?

Bute and Banamine are two common drugs in the U.S. horse world. But why do most barns use one or the other, what are their differences, and when and how should you use them?

Phenylbutazone or flunixin meglumine? You may know these mouthfuls as Bute or Banamine. Now Banamine is a trademarked name of flunixin meglumine that Merck produces, but it’s also an example of trademark erosion, just like Kleenex, Chapstick or Sharpie. It’s the name almost every horse person knows, so for the sake of my tired fingers, I will be referring to flunixin meglumine as Banamine for the remainder of the article. 


Both Bute and Banamine are classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs for short. What the heck does that mean? Just that they relieve pain and reduce inflammation and are not a steroid. These two drugs are used most commonly as pain medication for horses, but you might also recognize Equioxx, Ketofen and Surpass as other NSAIDs. So, what’s the difference? Why pick one over the other? Often in a show barn, either one or the other will be used, but not both. This comes down to preference of the trainer.

But it also makes life easier to use the same NSAID for the whole barn. Why? Well, for example, say you’re making grain, and your barn has both Bute and Banamine powder, and the horses receive one or the other.  What if on accident a horse that was supposed to get his second dose of Bute powder that night instead gets a scoop of Banamine? So now that horse has two NSAIDs in its system, and it’s showing the following morning. According to the drug rules for USEF, this is illegal. Having all the horses on the same NSAID prevents situations like this from occurring.

In the HorseGrooms Community, I break down the following:

  1. Phenylbutazone (Bute)
    a. What to use it for
    b. Concerns with extended use
  2. Flunixin Meglumine (Banamine)
    a. What to use it for
    b. Concerns with extended use
  3. How to Give
    a. Forms of the drugs
    b. What NEVER to do
  4. Always Remember

See what you are missing when you don’t join the HorseGrooms Community.

Sign up for free to take full advantage of Laura Elser’s article detailing when and how to use Bute and Banamine.

February 26, 2024

Laura Elser 🇺🇸

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