Zelda has always been a good girl about accepting oral meds. The occasional wormer, the odd tube of Banamine, none of those have caused a problem. Same with the first dose of omeprazole. The problem is, this isn’t a one-dose situation. Or even two doses. It’s once a day for 28 days. We have just completed the first two weeks and both Zelda and I are learning tips and tricks for giving oral meds successfully.
Zelda has realized that she can make herself very tall. She’s always a big horse, but I swear she’s grown about a foot taller. Once she sees that syringe, she manages to keep her head about eight feet off the ground, even while running backward! She has also realized that there are some conditions which will discourage me — i.e., when its pouring rain, dark and muddy and she runs away from me. Yup, that night she got to skip her dose until the morning.
But, since it’s my job to make sure her stomach — and not my hands, jacket, and pants — get a good dose of Omeprazole, I’ve come up with some sneaky strategies.
- If it’s cold out (like the 20-degree temperatures we’ve had here), heat the tube and its contents to make them easy to dispense. There’s not much worse than finally getting that syringe into your horse’s mouth only to discover that you can’t depress the plunger and have to try multiple times. I either stick the tube behind my iPhone holder, conveniently over the heating vent, or put it a tub of hot water.
- Hide the syringe when you approach your horse. If they are smart, like Zelda, it only takes one glimpse of the syringe to make them turn and run. Even better, on the visits where you don’t have to give meds, put applesauce into a syringe to confuse them. This will keep them running away every time they see you coming.
- Trick your horse into letting you slip their halter over their head by putting their food in sight. Hunger usually overcomes the urge to flee.
- Convince your horse to lower her head by gently pulling on the halter. When that doesn’t work, put her downhill so you are taller. Don’t get discouraged if your feet leave the ground while your horse flings her head. Keep focused on the task at hand and push that syringe into the side of her mouth.
- Make sure you get the syringe far enough into your horse’s mouth before depressing the plunger. Otherwise you run the risk of having omeprazone spit all over your previously black ski jacket.
- Tell your horse repeatedly that this is for her own good and that you aren’t trying to torture her. She won’t believe you.
- Bring a treat to feed later as a way to convince your horse to forgive you.
Zelda is pretty forgiving. Much more so than when we had to force our son to take liquid Tylenol. Not only did he develop superhuman strength, he also held a grudge for hours. Zelda is so happy when I finally give her food that she immediately gives me the benefit of the doubt and accepts me as her friend again.
What are your tips for convincing your horse to accept syringed meds? And no fair if you can hide the flavor in something appealing like applesauce or molasses!