Parasite Control in Horses

Minimizing Bugs and Creepy Crawlies for Your Horse

From fly control in the warmer months to year round internal parasite control, it is a constant battle for horse owners to minimize these parasites. Although many methods have remained the same over the years, there are some newer techniques to controlling internal and external parasites in horses.

Besides leading to irritation and skin trauma, flies can also transmit diseases such as pigeon fever and summer sores. Flies are reproducing in the highest numbers from spring until early fall. While topical fly controls and traps are helpful, newer techniques such as fly predators and“feed through” repellants are finding their place in horse fly control. Fly predators are very small insects that target the pupae of pest flies. This kills immature flies before they can become adults and harm you and your pet.The fly predators themselves are not irritating to people or animals. Fly predators need to be spread in manure areas every 3-4 weeks and are fairly reasonable in cost depending on the number of horses present. Visit Fly Predators website or call 1-800-732-2563 enter code 95308 upon check out.

An additional newer product for horses is a “feed through”fly control.  These are feed additives that contain an ingredient designed to prevent the development of fly larvae. Multiple types of “feed through” fly controls are available with different active ingredients. It is important to research the safety of a specific product and efficacy given your stable situation before implementing are given. The best fly control method varies given each individual situation.The most effective methods include a multimodal approach using a combination of fly control techniques. Despite recent advances in fly control, the most important first defense to fly control is keeping the environment clean with regular manure removal.

There are over 150 internal parasites horses can be infected with. Internal parasites such as large and small strongyles, roundworms,pinworms, bots, and tapeworms are often present in our horses at some time throughout the year. Most of these are acquired through grazing and transmitted through the feces.  As a result,parasite ova and eggs are always present to various degrees in the environment.Although internal parasite infection can results in signs such as dull hair coat, weight loss, lethargy, coughing, colic, diarrhea, and unthriftiness,they can also be “silent” problems for horses, as they often are not seen by owners even when present in large numbers. Internal parasites can lower resistance to disease and infection, lead to unthriftiness, cause gastrointestinal irritation, and use up valuable nutrients from the horse. They can also lead to very severe conditions including colic, intestinal rupture and potentially death.

A good internal parasite control program is essential to maintaining your horse’s health.  Although individual programs will vary based on number of horses, location, and environment, it is necessary that all horses are dewormed on a regular basis This can be achieved through oral paste interval deworming or daily dewormer.It is imperative that each horse receives a dewormer containing praziquantal atleast once a year and preferably twice a year in the spring and fall.Praziquantal is necessary to kill tapeworms. In addition, most horses that are not on a daily dewormer, should be dewormed every 8 weeks with an ivermectin,fenbendazole, strongid, or moxidectin plus dewormer. Fecal examinations and fecal egg counts can also be performed by your veterinarian to determine the parasite load for individual horses, and help customize a regular deworming program for your horses. Manure control and proper pasture maintenance is also essential for minimizing eggs and larvae in the environment.

Although irritating flies and creepy crawly internal parasites are an ongoing fight for our horses, there are many methods available to minimize the damage these parasites cause our horses. Your veterinarian can help customize an external and internal parasite control plan that best fitsthe needs for you and your horse. 


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