10 Tips for Giving Horses Oral Medications
Horses aren’t always the best patients. And, when it comes to getting necessary medications into their mouths, even the shortest pony can turn into an equine version of a giraffe. Still others will eat around medications, leaving a pill-powder pile at the bottom of their troughs. Delivering oral medications often requires experimentation to see what works for each individual. Here are some tips to help you out.
Powdered and flavored medications can be top dressed and mixed into a horse’s regular feed ration.
Is your horse not convinced? Try adding a liquid, such as water, apple juice, or molasses, to make a mash in which to mix the medication. Caution: Avoid adding sugary substances when medicating horses with meta- bolic
issues, such as equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) or insulin resistance. For example, if your horse is suffering an EMS-related laminitic epi- sode, don’t use sugar to administer medications.
Experiment by adding some of your horse’s favorite treats, such as alfalfa pellets, beet pulp, and/or car- rot or apple slices, to the mix.
Powder-form medications are easy to pour over a horse’s feed ration, and many come flavored to make them more appetizing to horses. Some horses will eat these without much fuss, while others need more persuasion.
If using pills rather than powders, you might need to crush them first. Use a clean mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder dedicated to medications. Note that some coated pills should not be crushed—consult your veterinarian for instructions.
While one horse might find his medica- tion-laced ration unappealing, a compan- ion might be happy to clean up all the treats and goodies in his bucket, along with his medication dose. Make sure to feed the horse by
Some horses can cleverly eat around the medication in their feed buckets. Check their bucket to make sure they haven’t left any of their dose behind.