Written by: Dr. Bri Henderson, BVMS MRCVS

A list of 10 commonly used equine steroids and their uses.

Thumbnail for 10 Common Horse Steroids

If you’re going to medicate your horse, you should know what you’re giving him. Competitive equestrians in particular should be aware of which drugs are listed as banned substances or controlled medication.

Horse Medication Terms

FEI Banned Substances: Substances deemed by the FEI to have no legitimate use in the competition horse and/or have a high potential for abuse. They are not permitted for use in the competition horse at any time.

FEI Controlled Medication: Substances that are deemed by the FEI to have therapeutic value and/or be commonly used in equine medicine. Controlled Medication has the potential to affect performance and/or be a welfare risk to the horse. Some controlled medication can be given during or near a competition providing the appropriate veterinary reporting forms are used.

Horse Medication Administration

I.A. = Intra-articular injection
I.M. = Intra-muscular injection
I.V. = Intra-venous injection

10 Commonly Used Equine Steroids

Following is a list of the 10 most commonly used equine steroids, their uses and withdrawal times:

horse steroids1. Dexamethasone – fast acting anti-inflammatory/steroid. Used frequently for acute swelling, hives (urticaria), anaphylaxis. Can be given IV, IM or orally.

Withdrawal time: Equine Canada 48h; FEI Prohibited/Controlled substance, detection time is 48h after IV injection

horse steroids2. Prednisolone – most commonly used as an oral medication for auto-immune disorders (anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive). Used commonly to treat small airway disease or auto-immune skin conditions.

Withdrawal time: Equine Canada: 48h; FEI Prohibited/Controlled substance 3-7 days.

horse steroids3. MethylPrednisolone (Depo-medrol) – Synthetic corticosteroid. Commonly used in low motion joints to control pain/inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.

Withdrawal time: Equine Canada: 100mg I.A. 6 days, 200mg I.A. 14 days; FEI Prohibited/Controlled substance, detection time is 14-28 days after intra-articular injection of a 100mg into 2 joints or 200mg into 3 joints respectively.

horse steroids4. Triamcinolone (Kenalog) – Synthetic corticosteroid. Commonly used in higher motion joints to control pain/inflammation associated with synovitis, soft tissue inflammation and osteoarthritis.

Withdrawal time: Equine Canada: 20mg I.A. 6 days; FEI Prohibited/Controlled substance, detection time for a single joint injected is 7 days.

horse steroids5. Betamethasone (Celestone) – Synthetic Corticosteroid. Commonly used in higher motion joints to control pain/inflammation associated with synovitis, soft tissue inflammation and osteoarthritis.

Withdrawal time: Equine Canada: 18mg I.A. 6 days ; FEI Prohibited/Controlled substance, detection time is 7 days.

horse steroids6. Isoflupredone (Predef 2X) – Synthetic Corticosteroid. Fast/short acting. Commonly used for respiratory inflammation and skin conditions but is also used for joint inflammation and sacro-iliac injections.

Withdrawal time for respiratory and skin: Equine Canada: 48 hours after single dose I.M. Injection; FEI Prohibited/Controlled Substance, detection time for intra-articular/SI injections is 7-28 days respectively.

horse steroids7. Solu-Delta Cortef (Prednisolone Sodium Succinate) – Designed for intravenous use in situations requiring rapid and intense glucocorticoid and/or anti-inflammatory effect.

Withdrawal time: Equine Canada 48 h; FEI Prohibited/Controlled Substance, detection time is 14 days.

horse steroids8. Inhaled steroids: Fluticasone (Flovent), Budesonide. Inhaled steroid used for the treatment of asthma.

Withdrawal time: Fluticasone – Equine Canada – not listed but a general rule of 7 days applies; FEI Prohibited/Controlled substance. Budesonide is a BANNED substance under FEI.

horse steroids9. Naquasone (Trichlormethiazide and Dexamethasone) – a diuretic combined with a steroid used often to control swelling/edema.

Withdrawal time: As Naquasone is a combination of two drugs and a tradename, it is not reported on the FEI withdrawal time. While Dexamethasone has a 48hr withdrawal time, when combined with Trichlormethiazide the suggested withdrawal time is 5+ days.

horse steroids10. Anabolic steroids (Nandrolone, Stanozolol) – Performance enhancing substances, improve muscular strength. Banned worldwide in competition horses.

Click here to review the FEI’s Detection Times.