News & Advice

When to use anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) in dairy cattle

Jun 3, 2021 | Calving, Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Lameness, Milk Quality

The start of the new dairy season means it is time to get a new script for your farm at your RVM (restricted veterinary medicine) consult with your vet. One type of medicine often prescribed for use on farms that are really useful in a range of circumstances are anti-inflammatory drugs.


What do anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) do? 

  • Provide pain relief
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce fevers
  • Get your cows eating again, feeling better, and being productive more quickly


What anti-inflammatories are available?

At Anexa we have two main types available:

  • Ketoprophen (e.g., Ketomax, Key, Ketofen): Lasts for 24 hours, no milk withhold, given intramuscularly
  • Meloxicam (e.g., Metacam): Lasts for up to 72 hours (long acting), milk withhold of 84 hours, given UNDER the SKIN or into the vein


What situations benefit from anti-inflammatory treatment?

They are useful in any situation where you feel a cow may experience pain or inflammation, but some more specific examples are below. It is very important you have identified the specific problem before any treatment is undertaken as there are some conditions where giving NSAIDs is not advisable. If in doubt call your vet.


Down Cows

Most down cows will benefit from an anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatories should ideally be given within 8 hours of the cow going down. Things you should always check for at the time of administration.

  • Broken leg or dislocated hip – if you even suspect this, call your vet asap
  • Metabolic disease – ensure metabolic needs are treated at the same time
  • Mastitis or other infection – always check for other infections, if you are unsure call your vet.



Any cow that requires calving assistance or is down at calving would benefit from an anti-inflammatory.  This will help with a faster recovery.

You should however always call your vet if:

  • There is a large amount of blood
  • You suspect the uterus has torn


Lame cows

If a cow is lame it is evidence that she is painful. If you’re suspicious she has a broken leg or dislocated hip call your vet immediately. Otherwise, lift the foot and identify and treat the problem appropriately. All lame cows will benefit from an anti-inflammatory as this will help reduce pain and swelling. As with all lameness treatment, the earlier the lame cow is identified and treated, the better her chances of a full recovery. Ketoprophen products are great for this as they don’t have a milk withhold on them.



Mastitis is a very painful condition. Any cow with mastitis receiving antibiotic therapy will benefit from receiving a long-acting anti-inflammatory (e.g. Metacam). Treating with antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory at the same time can:

  • Help reduce SCC
  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Improve cure rates
  • Get the milk back in the vat faster


In what situations should you not use anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)?

  • If the cow is dehydrated, talk to your vet before treating with an anti-inflammatory

If there is no improvement following treatment with an NSAID, it is not recommended to repeat the treatment without your vet’s advice.


Contact your vet or discuss at your RVM consult to get these amazing products on your script.

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