The Skinny on Bute (For Humans)

We’ve all thought about it: taking a little bute at the barn to help an aching back or bruised hip. But is phenylbutazone safe for human consumption?


Ever wonder if humans can take their horse’s bute for their aches and pains? The short answer: NO.

The long answer: phenylbutazone, known as bute, is a NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that acts as a short-term treatment for pain and fever in animals.

Bute was originally made for human use in 1949 to treat rheumatoid arthritis and gout. However, when combined with acetaminophen or other household painkillers, even in the smallest doses, bute was found to cause irreversible liver damage. Because of this side effect, it is no longer approved for humans.

Further research shows that bute can be toxic to humans, cause bone marrow loss and anemia and is also a known carcinogen.

Bute works well for horses for short-term pain relief, but has a high risk for causing ulcers in horses, and can be toxic if used in too high of a dose. It’s best to consult your vet before administering anything just to be safe.

Bonus interesting fact about bute, besides the fact that horses think it tastes horrible, is that it becomes inactive from extreme heat. So, that means if you try to bake bute into horse treats to encourage your horse to eat them, you won’t be getting anywhere.

So keep the bute for the horses, and save your liver for better things, like drinking.

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