Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Cannot Give Oral Medications or Pastes

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If you are not able to give prescribed medications as directed by your vet.

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.

A horse’s refusal to accept oral medication (including deworming pastes) is a highly undesirable behavior that can complicate your and your vet’s ability to provide necessary medicines. The behavior can and should be resolved, for the good of your horse.

Horses are taught to refuse oral medications in the same way that they are taught to engage in many other unwanted behaviors. They perceive this behavior to be easier and more rewarding than alternative (desirable) behaviors.

However, like many evasive habits, this one can be a response to pain. A variety of physical problems may cause a horse to refuse oral medication including mouth injuries. Through examination, your vet can help you determine whether this behavior is a result of physical pain.

WHAT TO DO

If a physical cause is ruled out, look to yourself, and others who have handled your horse as both the cause of the problem and the solution.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet may have some suggestions for managing or resolving this problem from a training perspective. Your vet may or may not have an interest in helping your horse overcome this behavior. I personally find it satisfying to retrain horses to calmly and willingly accept veterinary treatments.

What Not To Do

Do not believe that this behavior is an inherent characteristic of your horse, it is learned. With proper handling, it can also be corrected.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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