Definition and Mode of Action
Corticosteroids occur naturally or may be synthesized. The most useful and desired effect of these compounds is to control inflammation. Corticosteroids have specific indications in the therapeutic treatment of medical conditions of horses.

Indications for Use
Corticosteroids act and are indicated in a wide variety of conditions that require anti-inflammatory therapy, such as joint inflammation, allergic conditions and skin disease.

Potential side effects of corticosteroid therapy: Some corticosteroids, when used excessively or too frequently, may have a negative effect on the body’s natural immune response. Locally injected, corticosteroids may weaken support tissues such as the cartilage and ligaments of a damaged joint if used excessively or indiscriminately. The frequent systemic use of corticosteroids may suppress the ability of the adrenal gland to produce naturally occurring corticosteroids and other hormones, thus creating a hormonal imbalance. Some corticosteroids have been implicated anecdotally as a cause of laminitis.

Additionally, corticosteroids, like other drugs, should only be prescribed where a doctor/client/patient relationship exists and only for the therapeutic treatment of specific medical conditions. In adherence with its medication policies related to competition horses, the AAEP recommends that practitioners abide by the rules governing the jurisdiction or competition in which they practice.

Reviewed by AAEP board of directors in 2010.

Resource Type

  • Position Statements


  • Horses
  • Medication

Publish Date

January 1, 2010