If you find yourself in a situation where you have to give your horse oral meds daily, he or she can soon become a giraffe and it can quickly become a frustrating, messy, two-person job. Here are some simple ways to outfox your horse, for his own good.
Bananas are especially pliable and easy to stash pills in. You can also carve out a “pill pocket” in a carrot chunk or apple quarter. Prunes are also sticky and yummy for horses but make sure the pit is removed as it is poisonous.
Along the same line, there are “pill pockets” on the market created especially for this purpose with soft fruity centres.
Some tasty horse treats available at tack shops and local feeds are soft enough to easy to hide a pill inside.
Then there is Zoe the Quarter Horse, who became a social media hit when her owner found the only way to get the 75 pills a day she needed to take was inside a jelly-filled Dunkin’ Donut! Be sure to check with your veterinarian, however, if sugary treats are okay for your horse ‒ some with conditions such as insulin resistance, laminitis, polysaccharide storage myopathies (PSSM), and gastric ulcers should not be fed sugary treats.
Liv Gude at Pro Equine Grooms also has this advice for giving your horse oral medications without all the drama:
- 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.
- 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 (the latter is easier to clean, though). You can also put the pills in a syringe, draw up some water, and shake. This works best if the pills easily dissolve.
- 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 se 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.
- 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.
- For giving one or two little pills a day, you can stay organized with a daily pill container. Handy.