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FAQ about the study and project

Why is furosemide (Lasix/Salix) given to race horses?
Furosemide is widely assumed to reduce the severity or frequency of bleeding caused by exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). However, this effect has not been demonstrated in appropriate scientific studies.

What effect does furosemide have on the horse?
Furosemide causes horses to lose approximately 2% of their body weight within an hour of administration. Race horses administered furosemide, therefore, run lighter than horses not administered furosemide. This weight loss has a beneficial effect on energy use during exercise, and could be the reason that horses given furosemide have superior performance to horses not administered furosemide.

Does furosemide enhance the horse’s race performance?
Horses administered furosemide run faster, are more likely to win a race, and earn more money than do horses not administered furosemide. This has been demonstrated in a study of over 22,000 Thoroughbred race horses. Furosemide, which is commonly referred to by the brand names Lasix or Salix, is administered to race horses before racing in an attempt to prevent exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH).

Are there detrimental effects of furosemide in horses?
Furosemide induces dehydration in horses, but provided that the horses are offered water, there are few adverse effects. Furosemide, when combined with administration of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, "milkshaking") can cause severe side effects including colic.

Why are you doing the study of furosemide in horses?
The study is being conducted to provide scientific evidence of the effect of the treatment on EIPH, or not, in order to justify the widespread and expensive use of the drug in race horses (costing over $30,000,000 US per annum in the United States).

Why are you doing the study in South Africa?
South Africa was selected as the study sight because of the high quality of the horses, the willingness of the industry to assist with this study, the fact that the use of furosemide is not allowed on race days in horses in South Africa and the history of high quality research conducted by the Equine Research Centre at the University of Pretoria.

Are there any risks to the horse in this study?
Races will be run under the rules of racing in South Africa (with the exception that administration of furosemide will be permitted). The staff conducting the race meeting will be those who conduct all regular race meetings. The risk to the horse will be no greater than in any other race.

Why does the horse have to race twice?
Horses must race twice to complete the study – once after being given furosemide and once after receiving a placebo. It is crucial that horses race twice so that we have a means of comparing the treatments.

Who will get the information from my horse?
-The race performance of each horse will be public, however, the results of the endoscopic examination will not be made public and will only be made available to the trainer and owner of the horse after completion of the second race.
- A final written report that summarizes the results of the study will be provided to the trainer and owner of each horse.

Will these races affect my horse’s merit rating or stud book standing?
- No, results of these races will not affect you horse’s merit rating, maiden status, or stud book standing.

Will the usual rules of racing apply?
- Yes, the races will be conducted under the usual rules of racing, with the exception of administration of furosemide or inactive placebo to participating horses. All other rules, including the prohibition on use of restricted substances, will apply. There will be random testing of horses for the presence of prohibited substances.

Will there be pari-mutuel betting on these races?
- No, there will be no pari-mutuel betting on these races.

When can I nominate my horse and how do I do so?
Nominations can be done from the 9th of November using the usual channels of the NRB (National Racing Bureau).
 

 


 

 

 

 

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