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October 3, 2013

A Spoonful Of Sugar Makes The Medicine Go Down

Lindsay Berreth photo.

Does your finicky equine turn up his nose at any medicinal powder on his dinner? Some horses don’t mind eating a little medication mixed in with their grain, but others act offended at white powder decorating their meal and refuse to ingest it. Treatments such as Robaxin and doxycycline are notoriously bitter, so disguising the medication is frequently the best way to go.

The old standbys for masking the taste of medication are molasses and apple­sauce—stir the powder of crushed tablets in and then add to your horse’s grain. But readers on the Chronicle forums had a few other creative ideas.

One thing that worked for me in the past with some bitter medica­tions was grinding them in a coffee grinder with peppermints (the Starlight red and white candies). Dump on food, and it disappears.

Jill Chilton

Washougal, Wash.

A horse can very readily be trained to accept oral dosing of medica­tions via syringe. You just have to get them thinking that you coming at them with the syringe is virtu­ally always a good thing instead of almost always bad.

Try dosing him every day with applesauce mixed with molasses or something delicious, and he will learn not to hate it.

Lynn Cronin

Hamilton, Mich.

Clicker train to the syringe. It’ll take you three five-minute sessions.

Polly Merrill

Saco, Maine

I mix [the medication] with powdered Kool-Aid, a drizzle of water, and then stir into feed. It’s very strong, and the horses would fight me to get at the yummy orange stuff.

Veronica J. Finkelstein

Haddon Township N.J.

I bought some Stud Muffin treats (very soft and pliable) and put the tablet in there. I even started using half the treat. I put the tablet in the center and roll it around into a nice soft ball. Occasionally I give him half of one without the medicine, just to keep him interested.

Hope Griffis

Raleigh, N.C.

If the horse likes banana, stuff the pills in whole. Or dissolve the pills in warm water and mix with banana mush.

Susan Auten

Dallas, Ga.

Low-sugar instant oatmeal packets (you can try different flavors) plus a little water (doesn’t have to be hot) to make a paste and mix the medi­cation in has worked for mine and is easy to do and not messy.

Also, I draw up my medica­tions into an oral syringe and then also draw up some peppermint flavoring (not the small bottles of peppermint oil; I’m talking the big bottles of peppermint syrup for flavoring coffees or hot chocolate) or something good-tasting after it. That way the first thing they taste as you push in the plunger is good! My mare actually really enjoys her medicine now and sucks on the syringe. Just 1 ml. of tasty pepper­mint is all it took!

Karen Kovey

Grand Rapids, Mich.

I mix medication into a paste and add pancake syrup and dose them with it.

I’ve also been known to hollow out a large carrot, fill it with the pill powder and cap it with vanilla frosting.

Corey Kaye

Fort Collins, Colo.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more like it, consider subscribing. "A Spoonful Of Sugar Makes The Medicine Go Down" ran in the Sept. 9, 2013 issue.

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