How to Get A Horse to Take a Pill
Pergolide is apparently very bitter tasting. So, the problem is, how do you get a smart, sensitive horse to take his daily dosage?
Toby is not a good eater to start off with. He will stop eating if he's upset or if I put a supplement in his feed and he decides it "tastes different." He is not what I call a "stomach horse," meaning that food and treats are not a great motivator. If he's decided he doesn't want to be caught in the paddock, a treat will not lure him in.
So, how do I assure that he gets his daily half tablet of Pergolide? Please note, the pills are very small. A half tab is perhaps a 1/16" long and half as wide.
Suggestion number one, from a friend who has a horse on her property on Pergolide, is to stuff the pill in a mini marshmallow. All well and good provided the horse in question likes mini marshmallows. Toby is not so sure. I lured him into complacency with three minis, unspiked, and then gave him the mini with the pill. He ate it, but that was that. He refused the next offering of "untainted" mallows and hasn't offered to eat once since.
Scratch off the marshmallow alternative. On to the bananas. This was my vet's recommendation. I'm a little leery of this one too. I gave Toby a sample slice of banana, and he wasn't too thrilled. I still have several bananas left, so I will try again to see if he will begin to like them more, but until then, I'm not going to stuff a pill in one to see if he will eat it or spit it out.
I have, for the time being, resorted to the old tried and true method of applesauce and a dose syringe. Melt the tablet in the applesauce, spoon it into a syringe and give it as you would a paste wormer. Bit of a mess and a little worry that perhaps all the medication is not getting into the horse as it's spread throughout a couple teaspoonfuls of applesauce. But, I decided to put the dissolved pill in a little applesauce in the syringe first followed by more applesauce to push the medicated stuff into his mouth first. It works, but isn't exactly the most efficient method when you consider I will have to do it 365 days a year.
Some other suggestions have been to stuff the pill in a chunk of apple, but I have to wonder.
And, my friend said that all the methods she tried worked for a while, but eventually the horse caught on and stopped accepting the various treats she offered.
Surely there is an easier answer somewhere, but for now, the jar of applesauce, the syringe, the pill, Toby, and I will be companions.
Some friendship, huh?