Sedating Your Horse

Sedation is something that is often needed in the autumn for clipping but also for the farrier, travelling or for rasping teeth.
There are 3 main ways in which horses can be sedated – 2 of these are via an oral syringe that the owner can administer themselves (Domosedan and Sedalin/Relaquin) and the third is through intravenous sedation administered by the vet.

Sedalin or Relaquin
The active ingredient of sedalin is ACP, which is a mild sedative and reduces anxiety. For this reason, sedalin is often used for horses that do not require as deep a level of sedation. Sedalin has the huge advantage in that it can be can be administered by the owner with a prescription from your vet. The only caveat is that the vet must have seen the horse in the last 6 months to comply with DEFRA medicine dispensing regulations. An additional advantage of sedalin is that it is given orally like a wormer. The sedation will take approximately 30 – 40 minutes to fully develop, and last for up to a couple of hours, so it is key that you enable enough time for the sedation to take effect before any procedure is initiated.

Domosedan Gel
The active ingredient in domosedan is detomidine, which gives a higher level of sedation than ACP. Therefore, we recommend domosedan for those horses that require a medium level of sedation. Domosedan is very advantageous in that it can be can be administered by the owner with a prescription from your vet. The only caveat is that the vet must have seen the horse in the last 6 months to comply with DEFRA medicine dispensing regulations. One difficulty in giving Domosedan is that it must be given under the tongue on the gum / oral mucosa – not just into the mouth like a wormer, therefore this can be difficult in horses that are difficult to worm. The sedation will take approximately 30 – 40 minutes to fully develop, so it is key that you enable enough time for the sedation to take effect before any procedure is initiated. Sedation would typically last for an hour or so.

I/V sedation
I/V sedation is sedation given into the vein and is used in those horses that require a high level of sedation to enable procedures to be performed, when oral sedation is not adequate. The dose / type of sedation used depends on many different things – including duration of sedation required, procedure being completed, depth of sedation of required, how sensitive the horse is to sedation. I/V sedation requires a visit from the vet, and can be done on our zone visit scheme. The advantages of I/V sedation is that it gives a much greater depth of sedation, therefore it is very useful in horses that are exceptionally sensitive to procedures being performed. Additionally, with I/V sedation the vet will wait for up to 15 minutes to enable a ‘top up’ if the horse starts to come round from sedation. I/V sedation typically uses a mixture of a sedative drug and a opioid which usually produces a more profound sedation with less sensitivity to touch.