If you have ever tried to administer a tablet to an animal, you will know how difficult it can be. Most species are highly skilled at separating the pill from anything else that happens be in their bucket or dish and so simply adding a tablet to their feed doesn't tend to work. Horses are no exception and can extract a tiny little pill from a mountain of feed in seconds.
So, How Do You Get Your Horse to Swallow Their Medications?
Some horses will happily eat the pills that you place in their feed, but they are the exceptions. Most won't be so accommodating and cause a great deal of frustration for their owners who are merely trying to attend to the horses' welfare. But there are ways to tempt your horse.
Soft Horse Treats
It is possible to buy soft horse treats into which you can press a tablet. These are palatable enough to tempt the horse to swallow and it's easy to insert the pill.
Apples and Carrots
Firm favourites with horses, you can hollow out apples and carrots to create the perfect hiding place for medication. Save the piece you have cut out and use it to create a plug to keep the medication inside the treat.
Pill Pockets and Pouches
There are several commercially produced pill pockets and pouches which have been designed specifically for administering tablets to horses. These little helpers are highly convenient but they are also most expensive way to go.
The pits of plums are poisonous to horses but pitted prunes are safe and provide a sweet treat which is sure to be gratefully accepted. These do-it-yourself pill pockets work well and don't cost the earth.
Dissolve in Water
You may be able to dissolve medications in water and then administer them using a syringe but you must ensure that all of the water goes down the horse's throat and not out of the side of their mouth.
How to Present the Treat
Horses will pick up on any stress and anxiety you feel as a result of having to administer medication. If you appear tense or nervous, your horse will be less likely to eat the pill. Try to remain positive and cheerful. Don't change your routine too much and treat giving your horse hiss tablets as just another aspect of a regular day.
Many of horses which require medication will be suffering from conditions which require a low-sugar diet. The treats mentioned above could prove problematic in this regard if you don't keep tabs on how many you are giving to your horse. One prune could contain as much as 2 grams of sugar and even the average carrot contains 5 grams of sugar. The treat manufacturers will print the sugar content of their products on the packaging or will be able to tell you what it is. Most of the pill pouches available are low in sugar and so could be the best option for horses on a restricted diet. There may be a risk of overdoing the sugar in your horse's diet but this is a better option than failing to get the horse to take its medicine.