News & Advice

Appropriate use of Anti-Inflammatories at Calving/Lambing

Jul 8, 2020 | Beef cattle, Dry stock, Sheep

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) have several effects, they reduce inflammation, they reduce fever, they prevent or treat endotoxaemia / blood poisoning and 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.

Assisted Calvings

Giving NSAIDs at the time of an assisted calving can help prevent inflammation and therefore issues down the track.


This is another indication for giving NSAIDs- the inflammation can be very painful, and anti-inflammatories can speed up the time to cure. In beef cattle, this may mean calves don’t receive sufficient milks, so it is important to reduce the pain and swelling.


  • 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


Sheep are often not given pain relief but they benefit from it just as cows do. We recommend NSAID use after assisted lambings, prolapses and if ewes are down – though these animals require metabolic treatments firstly. If you have any concerns, we are always happy to discuss.
Ruminants cannot receive more than one injection of long-acting NSAID (such as Metacam or Rimadyl LA) without consultation with your vet, as they can cause ulceration in the gastrointestinal tract. Short-acting NSAIDs (such as ketofen or Flunixin) should only be used for three days before consulting with your vet. Stick to the dose rate you have discussed with your vet, more NSAIDs are not better.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Anexa vet, we’re here to help.

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