Giving horses oral medications
Ah, this happens all the time. We must become the masters of disguise and sneak the meds in. There are a few ways to go about giving horses oral medications, depending on the type of medication.
- For paste medications, the easiest way to get them into your horse’s belly is by using the syringe they come in. Like most wormers! Into the corner of the mouth, up by the teeth, squirt, and hold that head up. However, you must have already trained your horse to tolerate this, and one really good way to do that is with a big syringe and some applesauce. Practice every single day for a good long time. Eventually, you can sneak in some gross-tasting meds without fuss.
Grinding pills the “old fashioned” way. Easier to clean than a coffee grinder.
- For powder medications, the easiest way to feed is to mix with their grain or ration. Occasionally, I meet a horse that will boycott his meals, so I usually make a paste with water or applesauce and use the syringe method above. Molasses is a bit too sticky.
- For pills, I find that grinding them up is a good way – coffee grinders and mortar and pestles work well. You can also put the pills in a syringe, draw up some water, and shake. This works best if the pills easily dissolve.
This method works well if you have multiple pills. Draw up some water and let them dissolve in the syringe, no mess to transfer from a cup to the syringe. And no waste!
- For capsules, they often dissolve with water, so you can toss them into the grain mix and let ’em break down. Check with your Veterinarian to be sure they can be broken before ingestion! If not, you may be able to have your horse eat them whole or the paste method. Capsules are a bit tricky, so if you think your horse will hesitate with capsules you might find out if your local pharmacy can compound the medication into a flavored powder.
- For liquids, these are generally easy to give in the food, unless you just need to squirt ’em right in your horse’s mouth.
- For the most part, adding oral meds to grain or rations is the easiest way to go. You will need to initially monitor his eating, to be sure he gets it all and doesn’t stick his foot in the bowl to tip it over if it smells a bit funny.
- Adding applesauce works wonders, as does molasses in the bowl if you can deal with the sticky. The individual sizes of applesauce are handy, but you can get a bigger jar if you have a fridge. I have also been able to hollow out the fat end of a carrot, shove a pill in there, and put the plug back in to deliver a pill if it’s on the small side.
For giving one or two little pills a day, you can stay organized with one of these containers. Handy.
What works for you when giving your horse oral medications?
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