Benefits Of Oral Use Of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs In Pigs

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Product | 01.05.2024
Lieven Claerhout

The administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) mainly provides activity against fever, inflammation, and pain. However, based on these direct beneficial actions, NSAIDs also largely contribute to animal welfare and improve the outcome of concurrent antimicrobial treatments.

The mode of action of NSAIDs is commonly based on the inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX). They inhibit the activity of two different COX isoforms and their specific inhibition pattern results in substantial differences in potency and safety margins when comparing NSAIDs (Figure 1). 

  • COX-2 is an induced enzyme released in case of cell damage and generates prostaglandins which provoke fever, inflammation, and pain. Inhibition of COX-2 accounts for nearly all the therapeutic effects of NSAIDs. 
  • COX-1 is a constitutive enzyme with supportive features. Its inhibition may result in harmful side effects like ulcers and gastrointestinal irritation, delayed blood clotting and renal toxicity.

Logically, higher potency and broader safety margins will be achieved when administering an NSAID product with a more selective inhibition of COX-2, like Pyrocam® 15 mg/ml meloxicam for oral use in pigs. Other NSAIDs for oral use in pigs still show a high COX-1 selective inhibitory activity (e.g., acetylsalicylic acid / aspirin, sodium salicylate and ketoprofen) resulting in a lower potency and a higher risk of harmful side effects (Table 1). Paracetamol has no anti-inflammatory properties and is not classified as an NSAID. 


Figure 1. Mode of action of NSAIDs for oral use in pigs


Table 1. Main activities of meloxicam, other NSAIDs and paracetamol following oral use:  ✓✓✓✓= excellent;  ✓✓✓= good; ✓✓= medium; ✓= low; - = no effect


As a result of the subsequent relief of pain, inflammation and fever, animals will clinically recover and return to appetite faster. The general health status of animals is a major concern regarding welfare standards. From an ethical point of view, both veterinarians and farmers are always responsible for the prevention of pain and suffering of the animals in their care. Consumers and various regulations are increasingly demanding better animal welfare. Poor welfare can lead to increased susceptibility to disease by immunosuppression and reduced feed intake. Freedom from pain, injury and disease is one of the 'Five Freedom' principles of European animal welfare standards (Table 2). Veterinary practitioners play a crucial role in ensuring that on-farm animal production is carried out according to these animal welfare standards.


Table 2. The 'Five Freedoms' based on the European convention for the protection of animals kept for farming


Pigs under stress are inherently sensitive to gastrointestinal irritation and ulcer formation. The administration of some NSAIDs with greater inhibitory effects on COX-1 via an oral route may additionally increase this risk factor. Meloxicam being a selective COX-2 inhibitor is not only more effective by also safer.

In case of bacterial infections, the correct use of antimicrobial products can be justified. The concurrent administration of NSAIDs improves the clinical outcome of antimicrobial treatments. The efficacy of meloxicam as an adjunctive therapy to chlortetracycline (CTC) for the treatment of porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC) was investigated in growing pigs (Table 3, Figure 2, Table 4). 


Table 3. Trial set up


Figure 2. Mean scores of grower pigs, trial day 1 to 8 (90 to 97 days of age), evaluated twice daily
  • Respiratory score (0 = absence of clinical signs, 3 = abdominal breathing and generally poor condition, depression, reluctance to rise and move, inappetence and apparent weight loss), = 0.03
  • General health status score (0 = normal general condition and absence of clinical signs, 3 = apparent clinical signs, poor general condition, long haircoat and obviously retarded growth), =0.09
  • Clinical index score = respiratory score + general health status score, = 0.04


Table 4. Additional performance parameters evaluated from trial day 1 - 28 (p < 0.05)


  • Meloxicam for oral use in pigs
  • 0.4 mg/kg BW/day corresponding to 2.7ml/100 kg BW/day


To find out more about Pyrocam, download the brochure by clicking here


Benefits of Pyrocam: 

  • contributes to welfare
  • high potency and safety margins in sows, weaners and fatteners
  • improved outcome of concurrent antimicrobial treatments


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