Dormosedan Gel Use in Horses

January 17, 2011 (published)

(For veterinary information only)

The size of the tablet/medication is NOT an indication of a proper dose. Never administer any drug without your veterinarian's input. Serious side effects or death can occur if you use drugs on your pet without your veterinarian's advice.

A new product has recently been introduced to the horse market that I feel is potentially dangerous for horses and their owners. Dormosedan is a sedative commonly used as an injectable by veterinarians and it works very well. However, this is a potent drug and when used without veterinary supervision, it can cause problems. With the introduction of a gel form for oral use, there are some other major concerns. Apparently, this drug was developed for the horse owner to give to the horse without a veterinarian being present.

However, the advertisements fail to mention the concerns in the drug insert. First of all, impermeable gloves must be worn to use the product because humans can absorb it through the skin. The drug can cause serious side effects in people, including low blood pressure and low heart rate; the insert advises people to seek medical attention immediately after contact. In other words, if you get this drug on your hands, you should probably be driven to an emergency room or call an ambulance because you should not drive. People with heart disease or high blood pressure are especially susceptible to adverse effects. Do you really want this drug in your barn around your kids or your dogs?

As far as horses, the drug should not be used in horses with heart disease that can only be diagnosed by your veterinarian before using the drug. Also, it should not be used in horses with respiratory disease, liver or kidney disease, in cases of shock, severe debilitation or stress due to extreme heat or cold, fatigue or high altitude. For these reasons, I believe only a vet should administer this product.

VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email

Information and opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the author and are independent of the VIN News Service. Letters may be edited for style. We do not verify their content for accuracy.