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A RECENT article on Clinical Decision Making in Veterinary Record, based on BestBETs for Vets, included a clinical scenario describing the use of a NSAID plus local anaesthesia in calves undergoing disbudding (Dean and Wareham 2015). We very much support the BestBETs for Vets initiative, with the aim of increasing the use of evidence-based veterinary medicine.
While we encourage this initiative and understand the methodology of BestBETs for Vets in that what the authors were describing were not clinical guidelines, we wish to highlight that meloxicam is the only NSAID licensed for the relief of postoperative pain following dehorning in calves. This is based on extensive work looking at a variety of measures of assessing pain and wellbeing, including physiological and behavioural parameters. One example of these measures is use of meloxicam (Metacam 20 mg/ml; Boehringer Ingelheim) to reduce pain behaviour following hot iron disbudding for 44 hours after administration of meloxicam and local anaesthetic, versus just local anaesthetic as shown by reduced number of ear flicks (Heinrich and others 2009, 2010).