A Beginners Guide to Horse Medication
Finding the right medication for horses is a tricky business, taking into consideration the possible side effects and for racehorses, making sure that the drugs taken would not affect the horse's performance in the race. However, the challenge definitely does not end there. Getting the drugs into the horse's mouth (and making it stay in) is a different matter altogether.
Besides having to maneuver the 1,000-pound body to get a pill inside the horse's throat, you'll have to deal with the possibility of having that same pill spewed back at you in a less distinguishable (and practically unusable) form. Of course, the chances of this happening depend on expertise at handling horses and in experience at giving medication.
Seasoned 'horsekeepers' have come up with all sorts of ways on administering medicine to their horses. These different methods are 'tested and tried' but not foolproof. Giving medicine to a horse is much like coaxing a child (only, a much stronger one with a longer mouth). Thus, the approach that works best for one horse may not be effective at all for another or merely to a certain extent, like only during the first try.
One of the easiest (but most likely to fail) approach would be to mix the medication with the horse's usual food. If this works for your horse, then you're pretty fortunate. But if mixing the pills with grain, applesauce or molasses does not do the job, one might revert to the age-old syringe. Truly reminiscent of dealing with an unruly preschooler, pumping the fluid medicine into the horse's mouth and holding it shut until the medicine is swallowed is not a comfortable task. It requires strength and patience as the horse will not make it easy.
An alternative to the syringe is something more friendly looking a plastic mustard dispenser. It won't guarantee that all of the liquid medication would stay inside that equine mouth but it would get it all in, after all a condiment bottle is more appealing rather than threatening.
Some horse owners also testify that pills dissolved in strawberry Kool-Aid juice or vanilla yogurt make irresistible concoctions. It appears that just like us, these medicine-repellent creatures have certain indulgences. Once we discover what makes them forget their repulsion to medicine, it's an easy ride from there.
It is not only the horse's health that should be considered when giving it medication. One should be careful in handling drugs that may have adverse effects when ingested by humans. Another technique in horse medication is to crush the pill into powder and placing it directly on the horse's tongue. Airborne particles that might be inhaled while preparing the powder may be harmful. But (phenylbutazone, equivalent to aspirin), in particular, causes aplastic anemia in humans.
Ultimately, horse medication also involves training and discipline. No matter how stubborn the horse is, it can eventually be trained to receive medication with little fuss. Making the drugs look and taste good requires more time and effort but is fulfilling too!
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