Horse Health Helper

Horse Health Helper
Horse Health Helper

Should the need arise, do you have a basic equine pharmacy and first-aid kit at your fingertips? Look to these insights to become a savvier horseman in the face of equine emergencies and to ensure overall horse health.

Readying the medicine cabinet

To build a basic equine medicine cabinet, consider the following ailment treatments.

Colic and Pain
“If you have a horse, the chances are that you will encounter a colic at some point,” says Tony Hawkins, DVM, Valley Vet Supply Technical Service Veterinarian. “It is important to be knowledgeable, prepared and have a good working relationship with your veterinarian. Discuss with your veterinarian (before an emergency arises) about the advisability of having prescription pain medication on hand and proper dosage.”

Prescription medications for colic help ease abdominal pain and reduce inflammation. Banamine and Buscopan are industry go-to products for providing mild pain relief. Phenylbutazone (bute), available as an injectable or a paste, can reduce inflammation and relieve some pain from colic. Bute also offers comfort to horses when experiencing general soreness, such as with hoof abscesses.

For parasite control, look to guidance from the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ (AAEP) Parasite Control Guidelines to administer timely equine dewormers.

“Always dose dewormers to the actual weight of the individual horse,” encourages Dr. Hawkins. “Many horse owners do not; they just give the whole thing, thinking ‘If a little bit's good, more is better, right?’ It’s important to weigh them or use a weight tape to dose accurately.”

“Any age group can get ulcers; they can affect horses from birth all the way to elderly, geriatric horses. Ulcers result from an erosion in the stomach lining. The stomach has a protective lining over the surface of it, and stomach acid – if it's not properly neutralized – can erode the lining, creating holes and sores in the surface of the stomach. It can potentially turn very serious if untreated,” shares Dr. Hawkins.

To prevent or treat ulcers in horses, Omeprazole is recommended. Supplements for digestive wellness can also help.

Equine vaccinations are important in order to prevent your horse from both core and risk-based equine diseases. “As horses are exposed daily to the environment, wildlife and mosquitoes that transmit the five core equine diseases, it’s important to follow the AAEP core equine disease vaccination protocol. Make sure horses are vaccinated yearly against Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis, West Nile virus, rabies, and tetanus,” says Dr. Hawkins.

Speak with your veterinarian about building an equine medicine cabinet and additional considerations specific to your horse and their risks.

Building your first aid kit

If you have horses, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be needing quick access to a first aid kit. Having all of the needed items on hand will at least offer some peace of mind in the midst of a horse emergency. Before getting into our equine first aid kit checklist, here are some best practices to consider, should time be of the essence.

Always have your veterinarian’s current contact information handy.

Know your after-hours emergency clinic options for your area.

Have a working truck that’s equipped with a trailer hitch, and a horse trailer, at all times.

Implement a designated location to store all of your horse first aid supplies.

Understanding that at some point your horse may experience injury, you may consider buying an already-made equine first aid kit or building your own. A ready-made equine first aid kit—there are a number of options available from smaller kits covering the basics to large equine first aid kits containing as many as 64 different products and 300 items total.

To build your own horse first aid kit, there are a number of essentials you will want to have on hand.

____ Eye wash solution

____ Cotton rolls

____ Cling wrap

____ Standing or no-bow wraps

____ Gauze pads

____ Highly Absorbent Padding

____ Bandages

____ Bandage scissors

____ Thermometer

____ Stethoscope

____ Surgical gloves

____ Surgical scrub

____ Disinfectant solution

____ Alcohol

____ Wound care solution

____ Electrolytes

____ Cold packs

____ Blood clotting agent

____ Topical wound dressing

____ Clippers

____ Soaking boots

____ Epsom Salt

Hopefully, you feel better prepared to help your horse in the face of emergency and to ensure general horse health. Speak with your veterinarian to learn more.

About the author

Aimee Elyse Robinson draws from her lifelong experience with horses and tenure as a writer in the animal health industry. Read more of her work at

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