It is no surprise that equine parasites have existed for thousands of years and they are sure to continue to exist due to their numbers. They can also protect themselves well enough to survive the ever-changing world. Here are some quick facts about equine parasites that you might be surprised to know.
- The larvae of small strongyles or redworms encase themselves in protective coating when they adhere to the intestinal lining of the horse and this protects them from the attacks of the natural immune system as well as many equine dewormers.
- Strongyles or redworms (both large and small) are the most destructive of all equine parasites.
- The encysted stage of small redworms is the most challenging threat to deal with.
- On a single blade of grass, there are about 100 strongyle larvae that can be found.
- Adult large redworms have sharp teeth in their mouth and they use these to attach themselves on the intestinal wall and suck blood from the horse.
- Tapeworms are common equine parasites and a typical equine tapeworm grows to about a half-inch long; while some can grow to an inch long.
- Other tapeworms can grow up to 3 feet in length.
- Bots are larvae of botflies.
- Botflies do not bite; their purpose is to lay eggs on the horse’s hair.
- The roundworm is capable of laying hundreds to thousands of eggs every day; these eggs are coated with sticky protein which helps them stick to anything they come in contact with, including walls of stables and the horse’s hair coat.
- The eggs of a roundworm are protected by a thick shell that can survive for as long as a decade.
- It is common for foals and young horses to be attacked by roundworms but usually they develop natural immunity against these parasites by the time that they are about 2 months old.
- Tapeworms are transmitted to horses via orbatid mites, which carry the larvae of tapeworms.
- While most horse worms pass out eggs through manure, pinworms crawl out of the horse’s anal opening and deposit their eggs around the anal area causing irritation and itching.
- Equine parasites can only affect horses; if other animals, like cattle ingest these parasites, the parasitic lifecycle is disrupted. This can be a basis for developing an effective worming program.
Equine parasites have developed over many centuries and they have adapted well with the conditions of the environment. The best horse wormer, when used properly, can still work against hard-to-control parasites. Abler can provide you with all your deworming needs with new easy-to-use deworming granule products – AbIver™ (ivermectin), AbFen™ (fenbendazole) and more. Choose Abler as your trusted provider for equine dewormers.
There are four important types of equine parasites that travel through the horse’s body as they move from one phase to another of their life cycle. Some can be extensively damaging. This article will point out the main internal parasites in horses and the best way to control them using Abler Dewormers.
Large and Small Strongyles
The most harmful of all equine parasites are the large and small strongyles. Strongyle larvae can damage blood vessels and vital organs in horses. Young horses are highly at risk for such infestations. Symptoms of strongyle infection include loss of condition, anemia, dry coat, diarrhea, and visible worms in manure. Fecal samples should be sent to your veterinarian regularly for analysis. Treatment for strongyle infections include:
- Fenbendazole for horses, AbFen™, for 5 consecutive days, given at double dose; this treatment is effective against encysted small strongyles.
- Ivermectin horse wormer, AbIver™, can target both small and large strongyles but is ineffective on the encysted stage.
Ascarids or Roundworms
Roundworms are white in color and they are stiff and can reach a foot long in length in their adult stages. When roundworm infestation is left uncontrolled, problems such as diarrhea and colic can result. When their population is kept minimal, they rarely cause problems. Foals aged 12 weeks to a year are most susceptible to roundworm infections. Roundworm treatment includes:
- AbIver™, which can be also be given to foals starting 6 mos. of age
- Pyrantel pamoate dewormer, AbPyran™, as well as AbFen™, which can be given starting 6-8 weeks in young foals
Pinworms lay their eggs on the anal area and this causes the irritation. Tail rubbing is a problem associated with pinworm infestation. Horses tend to bite and scratch around their hind area. Though pinworms are not as notorious as strongyles, they can be a nuisance to horses and the horse’s tail may be damaged.
- Ivermectin, fenbendazole and pyrantel pamoate are all effective in eliminating pinworms
- The horse’s anal area should be regularly wiped to prevent spread of eggs and re-infection.
Tapeworms rely on their intermediate hosts, the forage mites, to complete their lifecycle. Forage mites ingest tapeworm eggs, and when those mites are ingested by the horse, the horse harbors the worm eggs and now become the host for their development and survival. Tapeworms are generally harmless but they can cause colic if they live in great numbers. Treatments for tapeworm problems include:
- Pyrantel pamoate dewormer, which may require double or triple doses
- The most effective tapeworm treatment to date is praziquantel wormers. Ivermectin with praziquantel wormers are effective and considered to have an extended spectrum of coverage. AbIver Plus™ contains both ingredients and can target common equine parasites as well as tapeworms.
Bots are larvae of the botflies. The eggs are laid on the horse’s hair and they find their way inside the horse when the animal licks or bites its skin. When in great numbers, they can cause loss of condition and dry hair coat. Diarrhea or constipation may also present as symptoms of bot infestation. Bots are well controlled with ivermectin and treatment ideally starts early spring before larvae are passed out through the manure.
Dealing with Resistance
Some parasites are now developing resistance towards the available dewormers. For this reason, it is important not just to rotate the compounds but also conduct regular fecal exams so deworming program can be developed accordingly. It is impossible to aim for a horse that completely has no parasites; keeping infestation under control is mostly the main goal of today’s worming programs.
Keeping Pastures Almost Free from Parasites
It is important to keep the horse’s environment clean at all times. Horse droppings should be cleared off from the pastures every now and then to reduce egg transmission.
The good news
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Different equine dewormers work effectively in today’s world, and it appears that horse owners do not often involve their veterinarians when it comes to deworming their horses. Some owners will consult with veterinarians however it is important for all horse owners to seek help when deworming. You may think that giving your horse wormers regularly can successfully control parasite problems, but this may not be entirely true. Few horse owners understand about the parasites that invade the horse’s system and they usually are not sure if their chosen dewormers are effective against specific parasites. Here are some helpful tips on how to ensure effective horse worming.
Veterinary expertise is greatly required and fecal egg reduction count tests (FECRTs) are necessary.
Just because you have purchased a broad-spectrum anthelmintic agent, and your horse looks shiny and bulky, doesn’t mean that he is not a host to parasites. The only way to make sure that your dewormersare working is to perform a fecal egg count reduction test. This test involves veterinary expertise; the first manure sample is analyzed before giving dewormers, and the second sample is analyzed 10 days after deworming.
It would be perfect if FECRTs can be conducted on each of the horses in a farm but this seems to be impractical. Researchers agree that performing the test on few adult and young horses on the farm will be enough in gathering information to find out which of the equine parasites are predominant among the horses. FECRTs will not always be the perfect test; horse owners should understand that these tests cannot indicate the presence of tapeworms in horses. So the suggested protocol is to deworm twice a year (spring and fall) with an agent that specifically targets tapeworms (i.e. pyrantelpamoateAbPyran™).
Use information gathered from FECRTs to target specific parasites found on your farm.
Once FECRT results are available, your veterinarian can provide you with the assistance you need in developing an effective equine worming program based on the parasites found predominantly on your farm. Once you have established a worming schedule, stick to it. Climate conditions and the seasonal months in your area are factors that should also be considered when targeting those parasites. The weather can also help you in your quest for effective worming. If your horse happens to be immune to certain parasites based on FECRTs and you are located in an area where climate conditions are usually dry and hot, then it would be a good time to reduce the frequency of worming during summer months.
Proper horsekeeping practices should be observed.
Deworming your horse is more than just giving him the right dewormers at the appropriate time. Good pasture management goes a long way in decreasing the frequency of deworming. Parasite eggs are passed out via horse manure. You can reduce parasite population in your farm if you remove manure from pasture regularly.
Rotating dewormers has always been a suggested strategy. However, the concern now is not on how often you rotate chemicals but rather, which chemical to use. See to it that every time you rotate, you are certain that the compound you chose is effective for a specific type of parasites. For this reason, the importance of FECRTs should be stressed; conducting FECRTs is an important strategy in deworming. In addition, giving the exact dose based on the animal’s weight also helps. Always keep in mind that your veterinarian is the best person to seek advice from.
For choices on various equine dewormers that are effective and affordable, buy online from Abler now.
How often should you give dewormers to your horse? If you give the drug only twice each year, you could be leaving them susceptible to dangerous equine parasites which can infect and multiply in even the most properly-cared-for horses.
Equine parasites are likely to be present in each season and they may be able to produce around 5,000-100,000 eggs each day per year. Infections may not show up immediately, it can still take around 6 months for manifestation of symptoms, at which point damage may be irreversible. A regular horse worming program guided by your veterinarian is important to the horse’s health, along with access to clean water and top quality horse feed.
Which Schedule Should You Pick?
In developing a worming program, you need to choose which strategy to go for, whether interval worming or daily worming.
Daily worming involves the administration of a daily dose of equine dewormer. The dose should be calculated according to the weight of the horse; it is important to have at least a good estimate of your horse’s weight to have an effective program. A weight tape is necessary in this case. Apart from the agent of choice, there is a need to incorporate a boticide (a wormer that specifically targets botfly larvae) such as ivermectin for horses (AbIver™) at least once or twice a year. If you choose daily deworming as your strategy, make sure you involve your veterinarian in the decision-making process to come up with the best strategy that suit your horse’s needs.
Interval equine worming is also referred to as purge worming and is a strategy designed to clear a variety of parasites your horse may have, in just one dose. It is important to have timing and is recommended to have your horse dewormed every eight weeks. Treating your horse in advance may be ineffective as the worms may not be mature enough to respond to the treatment. On the other hand, treating your horse too late may give the parasites a chance to lay eggs, and have your environment infested. Depending on the age of your horse and its level of parasite exposure, there may be variations to this type of strategy so it is important to consult your veterinarian.
Control Parasites Before It’s Too Late
- Dispose of horse manure from the pasture at least two times a week.
- Allow other livestock, such as cattle or sheep, to share the pasture with horses. This likely interrupts the lifecycle of parasites.
- Harrow pastures regularly during warm months to expose parasitic eggs to extreme hot temperatures.
- Group your horses according to age to minimize parasite exposure and focus on a horse worming program intended for the specific age group.
- Minimize feeding on the ground; instead, use off the ground hay feeders
- Perform fecal egg counts to check if your worming agent is working.
- Never forget to consult your veterinarian when it comes to deworming your horse.