When you own or manage horses, over time you will probably accumulate quite a few medications. Whether bought over the counter or from your veterinarian, medications need to be handled and stored properly.
Create a Medicine Cabinet
One of the most important precautions you should take is to create a separate cabinet where medications can be stored. Storing medications away from other items like supplements and grooming supplies can help avoid confusion and misuse.
The medication cabinet should be positioned up high, out of the reach of children. It’s also best to locate the cabinet in the back of a feed room. Don’t label the cabinet as containing medication – this will only draw attention to it, and can make it a desired object if anyone were to rob your barn.
Lastly, keep a lock on the medication cabinet. Share the key or combination only with barn managers and anyone else who may need to access the cabinet.
Keep Original Packaging
Always keep medications in their original packaging – if medication is ever accidentally ingested or if a horse is accidentally overdosed, the original packaging has information on it that is important for the Poison Control Center or for your veterinarian to know. Keeping medication in its original container also reduces the chance that it will be confused for a different medication.
Even if you have two types of the same medication, resist the temptation to combine them into a single container. All medications have expiration dates, and in combining two separate bottles of the same medication you will lose the accuracy of the expiration date.
Identify Medication by Horse
If you have multiple horses, medications can quickly become confused. Keep each bottle clearly labeled with the horse who receives it. If the dosage information starts to wear off, use a permanent marker to rewrite the information so it stays accurate.
Don’t rely on your memory when giving medication. Make a chart with drugs, doses and times and cross off after you give each one.
Dispose of Old Medication Properly
When you no longer need medication or it is past its expiration date, you need to properly dispose of the medication. Don’t throw them in the waste can or, worse, flush them down the toilet. Your vet can likely advise you about proper disposal of many medications. If you have used needles from injectable medication, get a “sharps” storage container to minimize contamination. Some vets will dispose of them for you for a small fee.
Just in Case -Know the Poison Control Helpline Number
It’s a good idea to keep the number of the Poison Control Helpline in your medication cabinet, just in case medication is accidentally ingested.
Proper storage and handling of medications at the barn are important to keep both horses and humans safe.