Last Updated on February 11, 2023
Penicillin is an antibiotic that is commonly used to treat a range of problems in horses. However, knowing how much penicillin to give a horse enhances the efficacy of the drug and reduces the risk of dangerous side effects.
Have you ever been prescribed a course of penicillin for infection by your doctor? Did you know that you can also use penicillin for your horse?
As with all medical matters, always defer to your vet’s judgment, as they will know the safest medication for your horse. However, in a lot of situations, it is safe to use penicillin on horses, as long as it is done in the right ways and in the right amounts!
Penicillin can be used on many species of animals to help with many different medical problems. Today we’ll be discussing what penicillin is and how it works. We’ll also look at how to give a horse penicillin and how much penicillin to give a horse.
What is Penicillin?
Maybe you’ve heard the word penicillin before; perhaps you have some sitting in your medicine cabinet at home. But do you know what penicillin is, and what it does?
Penicillin is the name given to a group of antibacterial drugs. They are known as bactericide medications, as they can kill certain types of bacteria. This means they are commonly used to treat infections.
Can Penicillin Be Used On Horses?
Several different types of penicillin can be used for many species of animals and even people. Different types of penicillin are effective against different types of bacteria, so your veterinarian will select the most appropriate type for your horse. One commonly used type of penicillin for horses is procaine penicillin, but other types of penicillin are administered in different ways.
Never be tempted to give penicillin to a horse unless it has been prescribed by your veterinarian. Giving the wrong type of penicillin to a horse can be very dangerous, and may result in a fatal reaction occurring. Some horses are also allergic to penicillin or may react badly if penicillin is given alongside other medications.
How Do You Give a Horse Penicillin?
If you’ve ever taken penicillin for humans, it will most likely come in the form of a tablet or liquid medicine, to be taken by mouth. It is often also supplied in this form for cats and dogs.
For horses, penicillin tends to come in an injectable form administered with a syringe. This is because horses need such a high dose of penicillin, it would not be practical to give them tablets. Injecting penicillin also increases the efficacy of this antibiotic.
A course of procaine penicillin in horses normally requires once or twice daily injections for at least five days. Although your veterinarian can give the injections, this can be an expensive option. If your horse is cooperative when it comes to injections, you may be able to do them yourself.
If you are not familiar with using a syringe, your veterinarian will need to demonstrate the safest way to inject your horse. Incorrect use of a needle and syringe can severely injure yourself or the horse. If you are nervous about injecting your horse, ask an experienced friend to come along and assist.
How to Inject a Horse With Penicillin
Once you know how much penicillin to give a horse, you will then need to know how to give it safely. Most types of penicillin for horses are given by intramuscular injection and can be given by a horse owner as well as a veterinarian. Antibiotics that are given by intravenous injection are normally only administered by a qualified veterinary professional.
When injecting a horse needle size is very important. It should be long enough for the medication to be administered directly into the intended area – in the case of penicillin, into the muscle. The standard size for intramuscular injection of penicillin in horses is a 16 or 18-gauge needle, approximately 1.5 inches long, and you will need a syringe large enough for the required amount of medication. Always use a new sterile needle and syringe for each injection – they cannot be reused.
Intramuscular injections are normally administered to horses in large muscle masses such as the rump, neck, and chest. This will allow the medication to be easily dispersed with minimal risk of injection site problems.
The technique many people use is to remove the needle from the syringe, holding it by the hub. Insert the needle into the muscle with a swift, firm action, then connect the syringe and slowly inject the medication. The slower you inject it, the less uncomfortable it will be for the horse.
Some types of penicillin should never be injected into a blood vessel or near a major nerve or nerve area. If you see any blood as the needle is inserted, remove the needle and restart with a fresh needle at a different injection site.
If your horse is being treated with penicillin for multiple days, each injection should be done in a different location or his body; injections should never be done in the same place during the same injection period. Never use the same injection site two days in a row, as the muscles will become stiff and sore.
If you are unsure of how your horse will react to injections, or you know that your horse misbehaves when injected, make sure to have someone present to keep your horse still while he is being injected.
How Much Penicillin to Give a Horse?
So, how do you know how much penicillin to give a horse? Well, luckily you should never need to work this out, as the veterinarian prescribing the medication will do it for you! However, just for interest’s sake, let’s take figure out how much penicillin to give a horse.
The dose of most medications for horses is based on the body weight of the animal. The active ingredient in the drug – in this case penicillin – needs to be given at a specific dose to be effective.
The dose of the most commonly prescribed form of penicillin for horses is 3000 units per pound of body weight. This equates to 1.0 ml of Penicillin for every 100 pounds the horse weighs, once a day. So, if your horse weighs around 850 pounds, he would get 8.5ml of Penicillin daily.
However, the exact dosage will be determined by your vet, because it will depend on the circumstances. Never attempt to calculate how much penicillin to give a horse without veterinary advice, as even a slight overdose can have serious side effects.
How Much Penicillin to Give to a 1000-Pound Horse?
If your vet does recommend a dose of 1.0ml for every 100 pounds of body weight, then the dosage will depend on how large and heavy your horse is! For example, you wouldn’t be giving the same dose of penicillin to a mini horse as you would on a Clydesdale.
For a 1,000-pound horse, the standard dose of penicillin is 10ml. However, this can vary according to the type of penicillin being used and what it is being used for. Always ask your veterinarian to confirm the dose, and never attempt to figure it out yourself.
Your veterinarian should be able to make a safe guess as to how much your horse weighs by simply looking at him, but it never hurts to have your horse professionally weighed from time to time, for scenarios just like this.
Duration of the dosages will also depend on the circumstances; how severe the infection is, how long it has been around, the horse’s overall health, etc.
How Long Should Horses Be Given Penicillin For?
Sometimes horses only need to be injected with penicillin as a one-off dose, but it is more likely that your veterinarian will prescribe a longer course. Your horse may need to be injected with penicillin every day for a week, and sometimes this can be extended for up to a month – it all depends on each horse’s situation.
Your veterinarian will be able to recommend the correct duration for your horse’s treatment with penicillin. Sometimes, there will be a prescribed duration before a revisit; the revisit will tell whether that duration needs to be extended, or whether the horse has recovered enough for the medication to be stopped.
When to Give a Horse Penicillin?
Penicillin is an antibiotic used to treat various infections in horses. Several different types of penicillin can be effective against a range of common infectious diseases in horses.
Penicillin should only ever be given to horses when it has been prescribed by a veterinarian, and there are several reasons for this. Firstly, your veterinarian will be able to identify the correct form of penicillin to use and the most effective dose for your horse. Secondly, responsible antibiotic use is vital in the medical world to prevent the increase of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
This means that they are only ever prescribed when absolutely necessary, and you should never be tempted to give your horse a course of penicillin without the go-ahead from your veterinarian.
Is Penicillin Made Out of Horse Urine?
Penicillin is a naturally derived antibiotic, but it is not made from horse urine. Penicillin comes from a specific mold, Penicillium, which was first identified nearly 100 years ago as having antibacterial properties.
Penicillin is commonly confused with Premarin, a human hormonal treatment that is extracted from horse urine. But you can rest assured that your antibiotic penicillin treatment is cultivated in a laboratory, not from horse urine!
Can You Overdose a Horse on Penicillin?
Penicillin in horses has a relatively large safety margin, but overdoses can occur. One of the main issues comes from errors during the administration of this medicine, which should only ever be given to horses by intramuscular injection. If injected into a vein, penicillin will cause extreme excitement and uncontrollable behavior. This is not fatal and the symptoms will gradually subside, but the horse can injure itself in the meantime.
Some horses are also allergic to penicillin and will have a reaction when injected with this medication. The symptoms range from mild hives to breathing difficulties and collapse. A horse that has had an allergic response to penicillin should never be given another dose, as a second allergic reaction may prove fatal.
What happens if you give a horse too much penicillin?
The dose range of penicillin in horses has a large safety margin, but care must be taken not to exceed the prescribed dose. Penicillin overdose in horses can lead to neurological problems, particularly in those with reduced kidney function. If you suspect that you have accidentally given your horse too much penicillin, contact your veterinarian immediately for advice.
Injecting a large dose of penicillin into one site can also lead to injection site abscesses. If you are injecting a larger horse that needs more than 10ml of penicillin, split the dose over two injection sites. Remember to use a clean, sterile needle for each injection.
Can You Give a Horse Penicillin For a Cold?
Penicillin is an antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections. Most infectious respiratory diseases of horses are viral, and antibiotics will not affect a horse that has a cold. Horses with respiratory viruses are normally treated symptomatically, with medication to ease breathing and supportive nursing care.
The only situation where a horse with respiratory disease may be given penicillin is if it develops a secondary bacterial infection. Your veterinarian will most likely take samples of any respiratory secretions and culture them to determine the best type of antibiotic to use. Never be tempted to give penicillin to a horse without veterinary advice, as you may cause more harm than good in the long run.
Conclusion – How Much Penicillin to Give a Horse
Penicillin has many uses for many different creatures, both human and animal! It is extremely effective in treating bacterial infections in horses, though one must be careful and seek out veterinary advice before using it on horses.
Penicillin on horses can be given up to 1.0mL per every 100 pounds a horse weighs. This will depend on the size and density of each horse, and the type of penicillin being used. Make sure you know how to safely administer and use penicillin before using it on your horse, and never give penicillin to a horse without prior advice from your veterinarian.
We hope that this article has helped you better understand how penicillin can be safely used to treat horses and how much penicillin to give a horse! If so, please share this article, and share with us your stories of using penicillin on horses!
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.