Bisphosphonates in horses: reasons for concern

Bisphosphonates in horses: reasons for concern

When a drug makes a big splash, it pays to gather facts before jumping on the bandwagon.

Take bisphosphonates [bis-FOS-fō-nāts], which are bone-modifying drugs. The body constantly remodels bone to maintain strength. This is especially important in young animals, where cartilage is converted into bone, and in athletes, where training stressors create microfractures, which the body repairs.

Bisphosphonates were developed to slow abnormal bone remodeling in people with osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Now, 2 bisphosphonates are approved for older horses with navicular syndrome, a degenerative bone condition.

However, some folks are using these drugs off label in young horses to treat any bone issue. This may actually create problems by blocking a normal biologic process. For now, consider bisphosphonates off limits for off-label use in horses.

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