Major Uses

Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) that is used primarily in horses to treat pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis in tarsal, carpal, metacarpophalangeal, metasophalangeal, and proximal interphalangeal joints. While it can be used safely in other species, other drugs are more commonly prescribed.

Common Precautions

While negative side effects caused by diclofenac appear rare, horses can develop colic while on this medication. Some other negative side effects can include weight loss, gastric ulcers, uterine discharge, and diarrhea. There have also been some instances of inflammation, swelling, and alopecia while taking diclofenac.

Diclofenac should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug. A veterinarian should be contacted immediately if any unusual symptoms are observed or if an overdose is suspected. Some common symptoms associated with an overdose of diclofenac include weight loss, gastric ulcers, colic, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, melena, polydipsia, and uterine discharge. As with all NSAIDs, an overdose may cause gastrointestinal and renal effects.


Diclofenac should be kept at room temperature in a container that is childproof and light resistant. It should be protected from freezing and carefully stored out of reach from children and pets.


When treating horses for any condition dealing with joint pain, diclofenac should be administered in its topical form. Cream should be administered in a 5 inch ribbon twice a day for up to 10 days. The cream should be carefully rubbed into the affected area until it disappears. Should a dose be forgotten, it should be administered as soon as possible. Should it be nearing time for the next scheduled dose, the missed dose should be skipped and the regular dosing schedule should continue. No matter what, two doses of diclofenac should not be administered at the same time, as an overdose may occur.

Doses may vary in different species, when the drug is given by a different route or concurrently with other medications, and with regards to a patient's age, breed, and health status. A veterinarian's dosing instructions and/or those printed on the medication label should be followed closely.

This information is for general reference only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition of your pet. It's intended as a general reference, this information may not include all possible uses, precautions, directions, reactions (including allergic), drug interactions, or withdrawal times. Always consult your local veterinarian and have your pet examined for any advice concerning the diagnosis and treatment of your pet, including which products and doses are most appropriate. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. VetDepot is not a pharmacy. All prescription products are dispensed by our Pharmacy Partner. Article last updated 2/2014.