Disposing of horse medications and sharps at the barn


Don’t willy-nilly toss old medications at the barn. And, there’s a definite way to get rid of “sharps”, which are needles and syringes.


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You have 3 options to dispose of sharps:


1) You can remove the drugs from their original packaging, mix them with something undesirable (coffee ground/kitty litter) and toss them in the trash. This will work for all forms of prescriptions – pastes, powders, tablets, capsules, and liquids!


2) Take them to one of your community’s “Take-Back” programs. Many local pharmacies coordinate these programs. Some drug stores and pharmacies now have kiosks where you can simply toss in your meds.


3) Give your expired drugs back to your Veterinarian for disposal. It’s important to never flush drugs or pour them down the drain or toilet.


The FDA’s bulletin for “How to Dispose of Unused Medications” provides more information.


tall red sharps container

Sharps containers are a common site at barns and showgrounds.


I like to organize my horse’s vet kit every few months or so for a few reasons:


  • Check for expired meds


  • Create a “stock up” list


  • Organize and clean. I’m pretty bad about shoving stuff back in after a long day, a stressful emergency, or a blonde moment.


  • Check for temperature ratings on existing drugs. As the temps heat up in summer and start to freeze in winter, many drugs will become ineffective and start to break down. Know the temperature limits and move sensitive items to more appropriate storage.


veterinary syringe with needed and cap


You may also be wondering what to do with your sharps. That’s fancy wording for needles and TB syringes.


  • If you use needles at the barn, you can order sharps containers that can be filled up with your used needles and TB syringes, if you use those.


  • Larger syringes can typically be disposed of in the trash – but check with your Veterinarian for your area’s rules and regulations.


  • When the sharps container is full, you need to ship it to a specialty disposal company for destruction. Some Veterinarians will provide containers and also collect full ones for you on their regular rounds.



sharps container for needles

Sharps containers come in many different sizes and shapes – your Vet can set you up!


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