How to give your horse oral medications

Many of Finish Line's products come in an easy-to-administer syringe.,Many of Finish Line's products come in an easy-to-administer syringe.

Many of Finish Line's products come in an easy-to-administer syringe.,Many of Finish Line's products come in an easy-to-administer syringe.

Many of Finish Line’s products come in an easy-to-administer syringe.,Many of Finish Line’s products come in an easy-to-administer syringe.

Getting horses to take their medication can be a headache-inducing nightmare. They’ll stubbornly eat around any pills hidden in their feed and sniff dubiously at meals sprinkled with powdered medicine. However, administering the right dosage of meds is absolutely vital to your animal’s health – whether these are prescription medications or direct-to-consumer horse health care products.

“Syringes ensure all of your horse’s medication is consumed.”

If your horse is picky when it comes to taking its medicine, the best thing to do is grab an oral syringe. You’re not going to administer the meds intravenously – rather, you’ll give them orally.  This method ensures all of your horse’s medication is consumed, not ignored or half eaten.

The right tools for the job

The next time your veterinarian prescribes your finicky horse some pills, make sure you have the following tools on hand:

  • A mortar and pestle or small electric coffee grinder. You’ll use this to evenly crush the pills into dust. For safety reasons, do not reuse this item for any other purpose. Likewise, don’t select an old grinder or mortar and pestle you’ve used for cooking to mash horse medicines.
  • A two-ounce catheter-tip irrigation syringe. You can find this type at medical supply stores and possibly from your veterinarian. Be sure to choose an irrigation syringe, as others have tips that are too narrow to push the medication mixture through.
  • A runny mixer. This needs to be some sort of food your horse likes that is thin enough to go through a syringe but sticky enough to remain in the animal’s mouth. Try molasses, baby food, applesauce or corn syrup. Horse Channel also recommended peanut butter thinned with vegetable oil or fat-free yogurt, which is stickier than low-fat versions.
  • A two-ounce container such as a tall shot glass. You’ll need this to blend the medication and mixer.

Administering the medicine

First, wash the syringe with soap and warm water. While it’s drying, use a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder to crush the pills to a fine powder. Note that some medications, like antibiotics, easily dissolve in water. If this is the case, skip this step and place the pills in your two-ounce container. Fill with just enough water to cover the pills, then wait for them to dissolve.

Once the pills are fully crushed or dissolved, add an ounce or two of your mixer to the two-once container and blend them thoroughly. Load this mixture into the syringe.

“Start by standing in front of your horse and showing it the syringe.”

To give the medicine, stand in front of your horse and show it the syringe. Slowly move the object to side of the horse’s face, keeping it in line with the equine’s lips. Slide the syringe up one side of its mouth to the cheeks, then squirt the entire contents onto the back of the tongue. Hold the horse’s head up until it swallows the medicine mixture completely.

Keeping horses healthy

Syringes are arguably the easiest way to provide horse supplements and medications. Several of Finish Line’s healthcare products and feed supplements are contained in syringes that hold one to two doses, which makes selecting the right amount simple for riders. Luckily, you can use the same method to provide a variety of medications.

Keep in mind, however, that it’s always best to check with your veterinarian before crushing or dissolving a pill. Just about any medication can be ground up and given orally via a syringe, but some are coated or otherwise treated in a manner that makes it necessary to for the horse to ingest them whole, Equus Magazine noted. In these cases, you’ll need to consult with your vet on the best way to administer the medicine.