Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A syringe full of applesauce helps the medicine go down

This story began about 10 days ago, but let me preface it by saying that Hank seems perfectly fine, he's not acting 
a bit sick or out of sorts, and I'm not freaking out about this too much, so I don't want you to either.

Anyway, Hank developed these symmetrical swellings on his lower abdomen. I've highlighted them in the picture below 
so you can see what I'm talking about. They don't bother him in the least, but they're not supposed to be there.

I called the vet and gave him the whole story. He wanted to start with some blood work. I drew the blood samples over the weekend. 
Hank's blood chemistry is A-OK, but his white cell count is low. The vet thinks maybe we're dealing with dryland distemper, maybe not. 
He recommends a two-week course of antibiotics as the place to start. I picked up the pills on Monday.

Which is the real point of this post. How does one give a horse "15 tablets by mouth twice daily for an initial 14 days"? 
I'll share my method in case any of you find yourselves in a similar predicament. 
And by all means, if you've got a better way, please share! I'm only on day two!


This is my arsenal of supplies, developed and finely tuned from years of experience I'd rather not have acquired.


A mortar and pestle is adequate for grinding up a few pills a day, 
but when you're looking at 15 pills twice a day, I prefer a coffee grinder. Call me lazy.
So you grind up the pills and set them aside.


Then you cap off a 2 oz/60cc dosing syringe with the top of a pen because you've lost the original cap,
and you add enough applesauce to fill the tip and then some.


This is where the champagne flute comes in. It's the perfect extra pair of hands to hold the syringe while you add
the ground-up pills. Scrape the pill powder out of the coffee grinder and into the syringe with a cute ceramic-handled cheese spreader
or equivalent. Add applesauce and a dollop of molasses and stir with a chopstick until combined. 

This next part is where it gets tricky...


With enough practice, you won't be wiping applesauce off the ceiling.

Then the real fun begins and you go outside, halter you horse, and squirt the contents as far back in his mouth as possible.
I have no pictures to show you of that part, as it requires two hands...actually three or four would be better.




49 comments:

  1. Is het so picky with his food? What if you just throw the pills into 4 cups of applesauce + molasses? Would'nt he just finish the whole thing in one gulp? He doesn't really need to chew and he probably wouldn't notice them? Or am I oversimplifying things?

    What is dryland distemper btw?

    Good luck with him anyway!
    Els from Amsterdam

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  2. Or maybe stick them in a whole apples and offer them by hand?
    Els from Amsterdam

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  3. The easy way...

    Place the SMZ in a bowl. Add a little warm water. The pills will disintegrate rather quickly. Add applesauce and whatever else you want. Offer free choice. Mine lap it up. Finicky kids may need molasses and/or other sweeteners. I had one with Clostridium infection, was on SMZ for a month while her butt muscle rotted out. She's fine now. Last year had one put a leg through an oak wall. Doctored forever, he's fine now, too.

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  4. Get yourself a worming bit from the Drs. Foster and Smith catalog. It makes it much simpler to get the sauce in the horse!

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  5. And here I thought giving a pill to a cat was difficult!!! You are one of the most inventive people I know...good job!

    Nancy in Iowa

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  6. Weird swellings! Hope hank gets better fast!

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  7. Ouuuu, you've got that perfected. My horse had to be on 20 pills 1x a day. I thought i would have to grind them up and mix them with molasses & pour over her feed but, i tried putting the whole pills in with her feed and wala! She's not picky at all. I assume Hank is picky? Maybe crushed pills in Molasses over feed? I use Card Guard, low in sugar, LOL.

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  8. When I had to dose my mare similar to what you are doing, I would mix the antibiotic with a touch of water to dissolve the pills and then I spread it on a slice of bread with jelly on it. She would eat it right up and look for more! Of course it helps to have an extremely food motivated animal such as she is.

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  9. you should patent this procedure and buy up a lot of your devices and sell them as a kit... thanks for the smile. so sorry Hank is having problems and i hope these pills do the trick.

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  10. oh I would luv to see the faces hank makes from his tasting of the apple sauce ;-)
    I really thought the champagne flute was for your benefit after you finished this whole procedure eh ;D

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  11. I have dealt with dryland here. It's a pain because once the abcesses open, the flies are drawn to it and that's where the possible "spreading to others" begins. Hopefully it's too cold right now for flies. Seems a strange time of year for dry land, if that's what this is. Your methods look....um....potentially very messy, but very good use of resources:-)

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  12. I have in the past just olaced the pills directly into the syringe, cover the tip with my finger, add a bit of water (not too much but not too little), replace plunger and shake until the pills dissolve. taking your finger off and depressing the plunger to get all the extra air out is the fun part. ,,, I would think though adding a bit of applesauce would help mask the awful smell/taste, but you really can't fool a horse ;)

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  13. This is quite a clever concoction! God Bless you and Hank and I hope he heals quickly.

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  14. Necessity is the mother of invention! Who woulda thunk that a champagne flute would become part of a routine for medicating horses!
    Hope the meds work and Hank gets back to normal quickly.

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  15. That's where my extra crystal champagne glass ended up ... on the 7MSN Ranch! Glad to see it comes in handy to help by beautiful nephew, Hank!

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  16. I think you need to get yourself a new coffee grinder and put that one in the barn for meds. ;)

    I second the dissolve the pills in a little water and mix with something tasty.

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  17. What an encyclopedia of excellent methods! Thanks to all. (Hope I never need them)

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  18. You are McGyver of cowgirls. I swear I am always in awe of your contraptions....but this one is brilliant. Oma Linda

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  19. OMG! My gelding (also retired due to knee arthritis) has the same thing and has had it for the past at least 3 winters. We ran the blood work (only showed a little elevated muscle enzyme nothing else unusual), did antibiotics, bute, lasix, exercise, you name it. Nothing made a difference. Every spring when the round bales go away, the swelling goes away. We determined it shouldn't be the hay specifically since we've had the same hay summer and winter, also had different hay. The best we can figure is it's the amount of hay he eats in the winter.

    Anyway I'll be interested to see if you get any definite diagnosis. So far we've just been putting up with it since it doesn't seem to affect his eating, sleeping, peeing etc.

    You can read our saga under my "ventral edema" label in my blog, it started back Christmas 2009 (http://codyandaxel.blogspot.com/search/label/ventral%20edema)

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  20. Resourceful, I dare say, Carson. One would think that after all these years animal husbandry would have discovered a better or more delicious way to give pills to our four legged friends. It just always stays the same, a big effort and most always a nerve wracking fight.
    Hats off, you do so well out there all by yourself.
    Best always,

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  21. I just mix a little bit of his feed with the ground pills (and yes, coffee grinder is the way to go), applesauce, and sometimes a bit of molasses. As long as it is stirred well and act like it's a treat, my horse gobbles it up.

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  22. Hank knows how to work the system! Pippin should have talked to him. I was able to toss the 15 pills in Pippin's feed tub and he'd chow down. No muss, no fuss!
    I am curious what you find out about the lumps!

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  23. Estella from Co.1/23/13, 8:06 AM

    Went through Dry Land Distemper with Pearl (aged molly mule) last year....I do the same thing you do, Linda, but I'm sure your vet told you if or when it breaks to keep it drained and don't use brushes or curry combs on the others. Hot towels on area as often as you can helps ( right, with as cold as it is). It's in the ground and comes up off and on. Don't be surprised if someone else gets it. Good luck Hugs

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  24. Great ideas. I love the coffee grinder and applesauce. All these years I've been dropping the pills in the syringe, filling it halfway with water, letting the pills soak until they start breaking up, and then shaking it until my arm falls off.

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  25. My old mare used to get that same kind of swelling. Never seemed to bother her and we never figured out what it was. I wonder if it is some kind of allergy or just fluid retention in the low parts of the body for some reason. My mare was also prone to stocking up in her legs if she didn't move around enough.

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  26. I had a little mare that did the same thing. I figured it had to do with the lack of exercise. In her case when it was really hot. If I lunge her and it went away.

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  27. We use a coffee grinder too, then mix into some soaked beet pulp with molasses, and even the picky ones lap it up.

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  28. And I thought those were Hank's massive muscles! Hope he gets better.
    I noticed you are wearing Lucy's ring... I am so glad!

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  29. friend of mine has horses and I shared this post with her. She said she has a special bit she uses with a cavity for the medicine. You fill up the bit, put the bit in Hank's mouth and then wait 10-15 minutes until the medicine is gone. She said it's the best thing she's ever bought. Here's a link: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=16163

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  30. I think that is genius! Around here peanut butter works-but that was for dogs and they didn't need that many pills in one dose.

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  31. Carol in N. Colorado1/23/13, 9:04 AM

    One of my daughter's horse developed a swelling in his chest area. We thought it might be Pigeon Fever, but it wasn't and don't remember what the vet said. But Chase was on antibiotics for 14 days and we used cooked acorn squash-his favorite.

    Best wishes to Hank and hope the others don't develop it.

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  32. I have done the same method as whisper the wind did. The tablets dissolve rather quickly with a little bit of warm water. Then mix in a bowl with molasses (nuked in microwave to pour easier). Just
    scrape over their feed and they lap
    up all with the molasses. I have not tried the bread/jelly that someone suggested--but who knows?? weird that horses would eat bread and jelly....tainted with smz tablets....Good Job Linda. We love our animals as much as you do.

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  33. I've learned something new today. Never heard of this. I'm sorry you and Hank have to deal with it. Hopefully the antibiotics will do the trick.
    Your tutorial is priceless.

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  34. What I have found is to soak them for 1-2 minutes in just enough warm water they fall apart. Then add a large amount of whatever breakfast syrup is in the kitchen. Stir together and use the syringe to dispense.

    I started out giving medicine with applesauce the same as you, but each day it got harder and harder to catch the horse. With the syrup the horse started meeting me at the gate and a halter wasn't even needed.

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  35. Need to make pill pockets for EQUINES! They have them for cats and dogs, and they work amazing! I have been in your boat with Sissy! NOT FUN! The only good thing was she enjoyed the applesauce treat from the syringe, so it was all good.

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  36. Poor boo-boo, Hank! Hope all resolves with plan A!!!

    As for camera work during the syringing, Linda, I think it's time to invest in a Go-Pro for your hat! Purely in the interest of our entertainment, I mean your ranch records.

    Best to you all,
    Kerin

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  37. I had to run a course of SMZ tabs for my cousins horse who gashed his face open (she was out of town) and he wouldn't take them with anything. We decided to switch him to Tucoprim (it's a powder--LOVE it!!!) and he inhaled that with a little oats and some DAC oil. I always keep a jar of it on hand for the 'just in case' moments.

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  38. I cut the tip off the syringe so the opening is larger and you can fill it it without removing the plunger. It is also easier to administer. I put the pills into the syringe through that opening, add just enough warm water to cover and they dissolve into a paste almost instantly. I spoon some molasses directly into the syringe on top. The syringe is MUCH easier to fill this way and it eliminates the risk of shooting it everywhere. I find that molasses usually works better then applesauce as well. It seems to cover the taste better and it is much harder for the horse to spit out.

    I think I have tried every method listed here so far. Some horses will just eat the pills if mixed with something, but usually only for a few days. The syringe always works in the end. Ramsey was on SMZ's for a full month.

    I hope Hank is better soon.

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  39. I am in complete awe of you. I thought worming goats was a pain...I hope he gets better.

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  40. Never heard of dry land distemper...sounds a lot like pigeon fever. THAT is a PITA! We grind up our pills and add them to a wet mix of beet pulp and rice bran. Our guys lick the bowl clean. :) Good luck with Hank.

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  41. I usually crush the pills, mix it with a little grain and add some Mt. Dew.

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  42. I use Dancing Donkey's method. No need to grind.

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  43. Luckily, my guys will pretty much just eat everything I give them.

    Your method seems like a good one when using a syringe!

    I hope Hank is feeling better soon xx

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  44. Mix them in with a pint of sweet feed in a bucket. It's amazing how fast they can disappear!

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  45. As a few other posters have mentioned, those SMZ pills disolve in hot water. I put them directly in the syringe add a little hot water and shake till they are all melted. Then add a little Karo syrup and you have a nice tasty mix that all of our horses seem to like. Don't even need a halter to give it like this. Oh, for the end of your syringe, next time you are near a hardware store pick up some red caps! They are normally used for such things as caulking tube caps, glue bottle caps et. They are bright red so you won't forget to take the cap off before putting into the horses mouth and pushing the plunger! I did that one time with a clear cap.

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  46. Gahhh Dryland distemper, pigeon fever, same thing! How in the world did he pick that up! I hope it isnt!
    Messy disgusting business it is.
    We had it going around up here in SW Washington a couple years ago, not something that we had ever had to deal with in this area before. Found out someone had brought a race horse up from California that had it and it spread from that!
    I know a couple of people that went through it, luckly mine didnt get it!
    They say its usually spread by flies?? To cold for flies isnt it?

    I hope whatever it is passes fast!!

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  47. I am a elder who lives in a small town, I will never own a horse or donk, but I have just read all 45 of these suggestions and they are all wonderful. How do you know you could ask a question of your readers and get 45 great answers!

    Cheers to all,

    Jo

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  48. Hooray! Glad he gobbled that up for you so nicely!

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  49. Lily had that. It was pigeon fever, just settled in her belly instead of chest. They drained it and she was fine.

    You're a good mom. I just mixed mine in with beet pulp.

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