“People are becoming very sensitive to how we treat animals,” Lukasiewicz adds. “With labor issues as they are, trying to reduce our level of illness is a major obstacle. If we utilize some low-stress techniques in our daily routine, we may find that we spend less time pulling and treating sick cattle and spend more time creating a positive environment for those animals.”
Where do NSAIDs fit in?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are sometimes used in supportive care for feedlot respiratory disease. “I think the issue of supportive therapy is critical,” says Philip Griebel, DVM, PhD. “Antibiotics are buying calves time, but in the end, it’s the host’s defenses that must clear the infection. If we’re not supporting those defenses, the immune functions, then the antibiotic will run its course and bacteria will survive. All we’ve done is delayed the problem and maybe reduced the magnitude of it. Unless there are proper supportive therapies to bring in the immune defenses to clear the infection, then the problem won’t resolve.”
Breck Hunsaker, DVM, PhD, adds that work has been done to show that NSAIDs do modulate neutrophilic infiltration. “We talked about the benefits and maybe more important the deleterious effects of those neutrophils. If we can tip the scale in favor of pulmonary macrophages and gamma-delta T-cells to modulate that neutrophilic response, maybe there’s an opportunity to enhance the healing process.”
Unfortunately it gets back to the redundancy of the inflammatory pathways, notes Chris Chase, DVM, PhD. “We know that non-steroidals affect certain areas, and that’s good. There’s an upside in terms of knocking down some of those inflammatory pathways. They are very specific, versus steroids, which are not very specific. You can choose the pathway where it’s involved, so from a strategic standpoint, there are some advantages.”
NSAIDs aren’t the only answer for pain relief, adds Kip Lukasiewicz, DVM. “We have the non-steroidals that provide some pain support, but for how long? Sometimes just getting them to get up and move around and loosening up the joints is better pain control. If you have knee surgery, they have you moving that knee within an hour or two after surgery. Getting those animals up and asking them to move around the pens works.”
D. Scott McVey, DVM, PhD, agrees. “I think there probably are some yet-to-be-understood factors in using that type of therapy,” he says. “A lot of it probably is timing. It’s a tool we don’t know enough about.”
“If we choose pain relief, as veterinarians we need to be aware that we rely very much on clinical symptoms because we can’t talk to the animals,” cautions Griebel. “If we mask the clinical signs, that may leave us in a very difficult situation when evaluating animals’ response to therapy.”
This information is from a Bovine Veterinarian roundtable sponsored by Intervet/Schering-Plough, moderated by Jessica Laurin, DVM.