Medications: How and When to Use Them

Anybody that owns a horse knows how expensive it is to feed and properly take care of our equine friends. As a result many owners have sought out a cheaper way of treating and preventing health problems in their horses.

Story originally posted by: by Dave L. Biehl,

I think this is an acceptable alternative as long as you know:

— What you are giving and why

— What are the possible reactions or side effects

— Am I using proper technique (for example: vaccinations, IV medications)

The biggest problem I have seen in practice is the improper administration of vaccines and IV medications which are usually not life threatening, but certainly cause a lot of unnecessary swelling and pain at the injection site.

AAEP lists these principles of vaccinations:

A “standard” vaccination program for all horses does not exist. Each individual situation requires evaluation based on the following criteria:

— Risk of disease (anticipated exposure, environmental factors, geographic factors, age, breed, use, and sex of the horse)

— Consequences of the disease (morbidity/mortality, zoonotic potential)

— Anticipated effectiveness of the selected product(s)

— Potential for adverse reactions to a vaccine(s)

— Cost of immunization (time, labor and vaccine costs) vs. potential cost of disease (time out of competition; impact of movement restrictions imposed in order to control an outbreak of contagious disease; labor and medication if, or when, horses develop clinical disease and require treatment, or loss of life.)

Compendium of Veterinary Products Online

A great source of information for all the above questions is your Veterinarian. If your Veterinarian is not available to answer some of these questions another easy to use and very accessible information source is the Veterinary Compendium. There are several websites that provide the CVP online at no charge. The Compendium can even be accessed through your phone.

What is the Compendium of Veterinary Products?  The CVP includes more than 4,800 monographs of approved pharmaceuticals, pesticides, biologics, and other products. Each monograph includes complete prescribing information-indications, dosages, and species information-and is updated frequently. Material Safety Data Sheets are provided for more than 10,000 animal health products.

There are also several hand books available that you can keep handy to look up questions on Equine meds. Two of my favorites are “Understanding Equine Medications” by Barbara Forney and “The Handbook of Veterinary Drugs” by Dana Allen. Barbra Forney’s books also includes pictures and description on the best locations for IM injections and how to do proper IV injections.


Dr. Biehl has been an Equine Practioner in Nebraska for 35 years and continues in Equine practice as an Equine Healthcare Consultant for Heartland Veterinary Supply and Pharmacy. Visit them here to find out more: