Appropriate use of Anti-Inflammatories

Appropriate use of Anti-Inflammatories

Key Points for Dairy Cattle

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) have several effects:
  • They reduce inflammation
  • They reduce fever
  • They prevent or treat endotoxaemia / blood poisoning
  • They are pain killers
It is important to ensure you have identified and appropriately treated the animal BEFORE administering an anti-inflammatory, as these drugs can mask clinical signs. This means that if you do need to call out a vet, they may not be able to make a diagnosis due to the anti-inflammatory’s effects. So if in doubt, ring your vet before treating!

Calving Paralysis

Questions to consider before treating with NSAID:
  • Has she just calved?
  • Have all metabolic problems been identified and treated?
  • Are you certain she doesn’t have a dislocated hip or broken leg?
If you can answer YES to all of the above, it may be appropriate to treat her with an NSAID. Anti-inflammatories are most effective in cases of calving paralysis when they are used within 6-12h of calving. Cows that are down for other reasons will often benefit from NSAIDs also, however it is best to consult your vet about specific cases.


  • Calves that are sick (navel ill or scours) but are still well hydrated, will benefit from NSAIDS.
  • Consult with your vet before use as use of NSAIDs in calves needs to be carefully monitored
Cows and calves cannot receive more than one injection of long-acting NSAID (such as Metacam, Rimadyl LA) without consultation with your vet, they can cause ulceration in the gastrointestinal tract. Short-acting NSAIDs (such as ketofen, Flunixin) should only be used for 3 days before consulting with your vet. Stick to the dose rate you have discussed with your vet, more NSAIDs are not better.

Mastitis is painful!

Use of Metacam in addition to antibiotics for mastitis:
  • Reduces the pain associated with mastitis
  • Reduces SCC
  • Improves the chance of the cow getting incalf (mastitis reduces incalf rates)
  • Improves cure rates
Early intervention is key – if she’s being treated for mastitis, you should consider treating her with an NSAID.


  • Identify and treat the cause of lameness first i.e. pick up her foot, have a look and fix what you can
  • NSAIDS will assist with lameness recovery if the cause has been treated
  • If no improvement with NSAIDS after 24 hours, consult your vet.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Anexa Vet, we're here to help.

Date Added: Tuesday, 30th June 2020