Part of being a horse owner is unfortunately dealing with illness and injuries, and even the healthiest of horses are likely to require medication at some point in their lifetime. Here are our top tips for successfully administering medication to your horse!
Medicine can come in many different forms, such as, powder, pills or liquid and there are different ways to administer each kind.
When it comes to giving your horse liquid medicine through a syringe, such as wormers, you need to make sure you are giving the correct dosage. A simple weight tape can provide a precise weight and ensure you aren’t giving your horse too little or too much.
Start by making sure your horses’ mouth is empty this is because it is easier for them to spit it out if the paste gets stuck to hay, grass or hard feed. Horses have an incredible sense of smell so it is likely they will know what you are about to do, the trick is to be calm and efficient. Stand next to your horse facing the way they are facing and put your arm around the nose to stop the horse lifting their head out of reach, horses have a great habit of growing a few hands when the wormer comes out!
Use your finger to part the lips at the top of the mouth, because there are no teeth in this area, and slid the syringe in and point it upwards and depress the plunger. Once the syringe is empty lift the horses head up and rub the underside of the neck to encourage them to swallow.
Once the horse has swallowed the medication have a carrot or tasty treat ready as a reward and to promote positive reinforcement.
Unfortunately, if you need to regularly medicate your horse with a syringe they will get to know what is coming and they may find new ways to avoid it, however if you praise your horse and make sure it is a calm experience from the start they will hopefully tolerate it and make your job a bit easier. Another good trick is to occasionally fill the syringe with a tasty treat, such as carrot puree and feed it to the horse without any medicine in it so they enjoy the experience.
Some medication will come in a powder or pill form, the good thing about this is that the vet will prescribe the exact amount so there is no need to try and gage this yourself.
It might sound easier to feed your horse a pill than a syringe, but it can be harder to get them to digest these. However, it can be hidden in treats such as apples or carrots, you can core out the centre of the treat, place the pill in and refill the core. Hopefully the horse won’t know it’s there and will eat it without a fuss.
When it comes to powder medication, if your horse is a fussy eater or is likely to knock his feed bowl over it is best to not mix it in with the feed as it might not be ingested. However, if your horse isn’t fussy, mixing the medicine into the feed and making it into a mash is a great idea too as you don’t need to force it down them like a syringe.
If the horse is fussy or likely to knock the feed bowl over the best option is to mix the powder with a sticky feed such as molasses or puree and syringe feed it.
However you decide to administer the medication and whatever form it comes in, the most important thing is to ensure your horses get the correct dosage and make sure you always consult your vet before giving your horse any medication.
It is also very important to have insurance in place as vet bills can quickly add up and you want to make sure you are in a position to give the very best care to your horse without having to worry about the financial strain!