Permitted Equine Medications

TOC Articles: Equine Health

Permitted Medications

By Dr. Kim Kuhnlmann, DMV

Some of the questions most frequently asked by owners of trainers and veterinarians involve medications given to their horses and when they can be given. Complicating the situation is the fact that each state has its own set of rules for medication. There are often wide disparities among racing jurisdictions in these rules and regulations. An example of this disparity and the potential problems posed was a positive isoxuprine test in the two-year-old filly champion Flanders.

California has medication regulations, which are relatively strict as compared to many states, but are also fair and conducive to the welfare of the horse. Trainers and veterinarians operate under the “48 hour” entry rule. No medications shall be given within 48 hours of post-time except:

Topical Medications: Generally speaking, most topical medications are allowed to be used on horses’ legs, feet, and bodies, so long as they contain no anesthetics or other prohibited substances. This includes most leg braces, ointments, and hoof dressings.

Certain Injectables: Injectable vitamins, electrolytes, and/or amino acid solutions are permitted up to 24 hours. 

Tetanus: Tetanus toxiod is also allowed, subsequent to a horse injuring itself.

Specified Anti-Inflammatories: One of the four permitted, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory is also allowed to be administered either orally or via injection. These medications are the equine equivalent to human products such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Lasix: If a horse is a registered “bleeder,” or is on the “bleeder list,” furosemide (Lasix) or conjugate estrogen’s (Premarin or Estrogen) can be administered at a prescribed dose up to four hours before post-time to help control pulmonary hemorrhage or bleeding from the lungs.

These permitted substances are allowed to be administered to the individual horse to allow it to perform safely and efficiently. While trainers will vary the manner in which they have the horses in their care treated, the ultimate goal is to ensure the safety and well being of your racehorse.