Originally Published: November 3, 2014 6 a.m.
A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, unless you are a horse named Princess.
I have come to realize is that horses, in general, do not like taking medicine and Princess, especially hates it. She has a hoof abscess and it has to be picked and soaked and then a poultice put on it. Oh, and a little Bute (pain reliever) helps the process. Of course, that is unless you are a 1,000-pound animal that does not want to open her mouth, place her foot in a nice warm boot for soaking or have you fiddle around with a bandage. Oh yea, horses do not make good patients! Let the wrestling match begin!
Have you ever had a child refuse their medicine? Sure, we can all relate to a kid who screams, yells or tightens up their lips in total resistance to their cough syrup. Now try getting a paste from a syringe down the throat of a horse who has a 100 pound head, teeth the size of piano keys and the ability to toss their head around like it is a bowling ball. Apple flavored medicine? Forget about it. How about a little carrot treat to help the medicine go down? Not going to happen! So, I have taken up "horse whispering" so I can softly and gently get (trick) Princess into cooperating with me, but most of the time I end up whispering a few choice words that cannot be printed in this fine newspaper.
My husband, Doug, has far better results and seems unbothered by the whole ordeal. He doesn't even need to whisper!
I guess Princess is not alone, since a recent survey conducted by HealthPrize Technologies claims that people hate taking their medicine so much that it costs the U.S. an estimated $290 billion and 125,000 deaths each year! One finding in the survey suggests that 47 percent of people would rather take out the trash than take their prescribed meds. Well, that makes perfect sense to me. Let's see, walking outside in fresh air versus swallowing some evil little pill? I'll take the trash. Oh, and the research claims that people "forget" taking their medicine because it reminds them that they are either not well or getting old. Yes, Dear Readers, having to take medicine can be a hard pill to swallow.
If you have ever been prescribed an antibiotic, you have probably heard your doctor tell you to be sure to finish the entire bottle of pills. More than 50 percent of patients stop taking them, as soon as they start feeling better. Which might imply that people don't believe what their doctors are telling them, or dislike taking meds so much that they don't care what their doctors say.
Hey, if we adults cannot seem to bring ourselves to correctly taking our medicine, how could we expect a horse or a dog to do much better?
My big yellow Lab, Molly, was like Houdini when it came to taking her pills. Hide it in a piece of cheese and she would gobble the cheese and spit out the pill. Grind up the pill and put it in wet dog food and she would sniff and run. Place the pill in those very expensive "pill pockets" for pets and she would play with the treat till the pill fell out on the floor and swallow the yummy biscuit. What are we to do?
Have you ever had cherry cough syrup spit in your face? Parents and grandparents have often suffered this insult when trying to get a toddler to take their medicine. We may get the kids to open their mouths and take their syrup, but it doesn't mean we can force them to swallow it! Horses aren't that much different - just bigger.
My friendly, old horse, Baxter is very easy going. He is usually relaxed and happy. Medicine? No problem. He just stands at attention and cooperates, until you walk away and think he has swallowed it, because after several minutes he will spit out (at quite a far distance) anything that you have put in his mouth. More like Dennis the Menace than a horse, he has also been known to take a long swig of water, walk 20 yards over to another horse and squirt it out in the face of his surprised buddy. Baxter actually did that to our neighbor once. We were standing by the corral and Baxter walked over to us, stood very close in front of my neighbor and when they were head to head, like a water pistol, Baxter shot a stream of water in his face! Not very neighborly!
My girlfriend says she is "through" taking her cholesterol medicine because she would rather change her diet than "take a pill every day." My colleague is upset with his 92-year-old mother because she is "refusing" to cooperate with her doctors and "has become a difficult patient" because she refuses to take her meds. My grandson was told to take antibiotics for 10 days because he had an infected cut on his leg. He stopped taking them after three days "because the cut had healed." My grandson with autism sometimes has been known to take the pills out of his mouth and hide them under the seat cushion of the sofa. Why? He says, "I hate swallowing pills." And a well known Senator's wife kept "forgetting" to take her blood pressure pills, until she had a mild stroke. Hmm ... it seems this is a universal problem and people simply don't like taking medicine!
All I can do is continue "whispering" to my horses and dog, check the sofa cushions and duck when a certain horse walks up to me. I will also make a better effort to take my own blood pressure pills. Or ... I could take out the trash. Medicine? Let's just take our pills and swallow them!
Judy Bluhm is a writer and local Realtor who lives in Skull Valley. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.