Last Updated on November 18, 2022
Xylazine is a commonly used drug that your veterinarian may use, but how much xylazine can you give a horse safely? And what is xylazine used for in horses? Let’s find out everything you need to know about this incredibly useful drug for horses!
What Is Xylazine?
Xylazine is a sedative drug used in horses to keep them calm and quiet during medical procedures. As well as having tranquilizing effects, xylazine also helps to give short-term pain relief. Xylazine is commonly administered alongside an opioid drug, such as butorphanol, as the two drugs each increase the potency of the other.
Xylazine is the generic name for this drug, but it is normally sold under a trading name by the manufacturer. This means you may see bottles of xylazine labeled as Sedazine, Ana-Zed, Tranquived, or Xyla-Ject.
What Is Horse Tranquilizer Used For?
The horse tranquilizer xylazine is used to keep horses calm and quiet, normally during medical procedures. Xylazine helps to sedate the horse and also provides pain relief, making the horse less likely to respond to painful stimuli. However, xylazine does not block all pain, and the horse may still react to extreme pain.
Horses are sedated by veterinarians for a range of different reasons, such as:
- Management of wounds, including cleaning, suturing, and bandaging
- To immobilize the horse for diagnostic imaging, such as radiography, ultrasonography, or scintigraphy
- To enable minor surgical procedures understanding of sedation to be carried out
- To keep the horse calm during periods of stress, such as traveling or separation from another horse
- Used to sedate horses for clipping
Sedation in horses is normally relatively short-lived and is just long enough to allow the procedure to be performed. Tranquilizer drugs help keep the horse still and calm, and they will not normally react to any external stimuli.
Some tranquilizers provide mild pain relief, but they do not block out pain altogether. For painful procedures, the veterinarian will normally also administer a systemic painkiller and may potentially use a local anesthetic to block out pain in the affected area.
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How Is Xylazine Given To Horses?
Xylazine is supplied in a glass bottle and this liquid medication is only available to veterinary surgeons. It is an injectable drug, normally administered directly into the vein or muscle. Intravenous injection gives rapid results within minutes, whereas the effects of intramuscular injection take significantly longer.
In some situations, xylazine can also be given as a subcutaneous injection under the skin. However, this is very rare in horses.
Due to the fact that xylazine is a prescription-only drug and is normally injected intravenously, this medication is generally only administered by veterinary surgeons. It is inadvisable to ever sedate a horse without direct veterinary supervision in case any dangerous side effects occur.
Can You Give Xylazine Orally To Horses
Some horse tranquilizers can be given orally, which is useful for horse owners who want to be able to administer a sedative without the supervision of a veterinary surgeon. However, not all horse tranquilizers are effective when given directly into the horse’s mouth.
Xylazine is not normally given orally to horses. For best results, it is normally injected intravenously for its fast-acting sedative effect. Xylazine is also very useful as it can be injected into the muscle or under the skin, making it a convenient option for horses that are difficult to inject.
How Much Xylazine Can You Give A Horse?
Your veterinarian will calculate how much xylazine to give your horse based on the horse’s body weight and various other factors. This includes the age and temperament of the horse, plus any medical history and known reactions to other types of sedatives. It is also important to assess what medication the horse is on, as xylazine should not be given to horses that have received certain antibiotics.
The dose of xylazine for a horse ranges from 100 to 200 milligrams, depending on the size of the horse. Young excitable horses will need a higher dose, whilst older and or more debilitated animals can be sedated with less.
For xylazine to be most effective, the horse should be as calm as possible when the drug is administered. Once the drug has been injected, the horse should be left to stand calmly until it is fully sedated. Any stimulation during this time may prevent the drug from working effectively.
Xylazine should never be given alone if the procedure involves working around the hind legs, as horses that are sedated with xylazine can still kick in response to stimuli.
How Long Does Xylazine Last In A Horse?
The sedative effect of xylazine is relatively short, making it a good choice for short procedures such as clipping or bandage changes. The horse will remain calm for up to two hours, depending on the dose administered and whether an opioid was given at the same time.
The pain-relieving effects of xylazine are more short-lived, and only last for around half an hour. This is why veterinarians usually give an injection of painkillers at the same time as sedating a horse with xylazine, especially if the procedure is expected to be painful.
In some equestrian sports, such as racing, horses are tested for the presence of drugs. It has been shown that xylazine can be detected in the bloodstream for at least two days after injection.
Summary – How Much Xylazine Can You Give A Horse?
So, as we have learned, calculating how much xylazine can you give a horse depends on a range of different factors. Your veterinarian will carefully calculate the dose of this effective tranquilizing drug based on the size and weight of your horse, as well as other factors such as underlying health problems and any other medication your horse is currently receiving. Never attempt to calculate or administer xylazine to a horse without veterinary supervision, as your horse may suffer from unpleasant and dangerous side effects.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how much xylazine can you give a horse! Have you ever encountered a situation where a horse has suffered from side effects after being given xylazine? Or maybe you’ve got some questions about the best tranquilizers to give to horses. Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE