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Horse Health: Bisphosphonate Concerns
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Horse Health: Bisphosphonate Concerns

Bisphosphonates inhibit bone breakdown/resorption, making them useful for treating bone disorders such as podotrochlosis (navicular syndrome) in horses. Cells called osteoclasts play a key role in breaking down old bone while another type of cell—osteoblasts—creates new bone. This natural process ensures bones remain strong and healthy and allows them to adapt to changes in exercise level or musculoskeletal system stress. Bisphosphonates bind to osteoclasts to block excess bone resorption.

Doctors have used nitrogenous bisphosphonates in humans for many years. Two rare but serious side effects in humans include atypical thigh bone fractures and jaw osteonecrosis (a condition in which, because of disrupted blood supply to the bone, bone breaks down faster than it can be produced). 

The only two bisphosphonates for use in horses are clodronate disodium (Osphos) and tiludronate disodium (Tildren). Data support both products safety and efficacy in horses with navicular syndrome.

Bisphosphonates used in horses are non-nitrogenous. Till date, no published studies appear to have identified either femoral fractures or osteonecrosis as potential threats to horses receiving non-nitrogenous bisphosphonates. Some horses can experience certain adverse effects during and after bisphosphonate administration. With clodronate disodium (Osphos) administration those can include clinical signs of discomfort such as pawing, yawning, and lip-licking, as well as colic. Adverse effects associated with tiludronate disodium (Tildren) administration include colic, frequent urination, muscle twitching, and injection site inflammation.

 In studies associated with each of the drugs, most of the adverse events were self-resolving. Bisphosphonates should not be administered concurrently with NSAIDs. Bisphosphonates can cause gastrointestinal and renal (kidney) toxicity; NSAIDs also can contribute to kidney dysfunction and gastrointestinal ulceration, particularly of the stomach (both glandular and squamous portions) and right dorsal colon. Practically, this can be tricky, because NSAIDs are popular treatments for many painful conditions, including navicular syndrome and osteoarthritis. 

Bisphosphonates aren’t recommended for use in young and/or pregnant horses. The Fédération Equestre Internationale will begin prohibiting nitrogenous bisphosphonate use in horses starting in 2019.

Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.

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  1. Ageante
    You have a good blogs but you are not loved, sorry.. Try another blog 12 post, 6 top post???
  2. Ladan
    Very good topic, read your article on bisphosphonate ( Osoph and Tildren) too. On point
  3. Duyee
    Very educative.
  4. David O
    Thanks for your accolades and thanks for the observation, first i think the blog is cool with their writers, well if your observation is true, African horse owners are not really valued! Maybe, but it will not stop me from blogging for ofhorse. Lastly I think 6 out of 12 is impressive, considering the number of post the blog post, 2ndly, many times a post with two like might go to the homepage even when I am having 20 like, it is the blogs algorithm and its beyond my knowledge, we are cool, we are sharing the knowledge and learning, I thinks that enough! Thank you

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