Why does my horse need a deworming program?
All horses should be on a regular parasite control program. Infestations of internal parasites can cause damage to a horse’s internal organs. Signs that your horse needs to be dewormed can include a dull coat, poor overall condition, diarrhea, poor or voracious appetite, distended barrel, itchy tail, colic symptoms, and in extreme cases, death.
How do I prevent my horse from getting parasites?
Total prevention of parasites is almost impossible. But steps can be taken to reduce the eggs that exist in pastures and stables.
Good pasture maintenance is the most important step in reducing parasites in horses. Parasite eggs, having been dropped in the horse’s manure, are then eaten along with the grass. Keep your pastures clear of old manure. Allow pastures to rest if possible. Keep stalls clean and dry.
Fly sprays may help repel bot flies and many people pull the small yellow eggs off of their horse’s hair coat so the horse does not ingest them.
It is also important to deworm any new horse that comes on the property before you turn it out on pasture.
What type of deworming product should I use?
There are several types of parasite control products on the market. These can be administered by paste, or gel or as a pelleted form. you can obtain them from your veterinarian or a feed store
Tubes of paste or gel are very convenient and come pre-measured. It is very easy to use the syringe type applicator to place the medication in your horse’s mouth.
Each time you deworm you should use a different product so that parasites don’t become resistant to any one type. If you live in an area with year round pasture, the products you’ll need will be different from horse owners whose pastures are beneath the snow for several months of the year. Consult with your veterinarian to find out which products are advised for the area you live in.
Currently, we recommend paste de-worming twice yearly (at least once with ivermectin/praziquantel such as Equimax or Zimectrin Gold) with fecals in the intervening times to determine if additional de-worming in necessary.
How can I check my deworming program is working?
If you want to check the amount of parasite eggs in your horse’s manure take a sample to your veterinarian who can do a fecal analysis. This will give you an idea whether your worming program is effective. You will learn the quantity and type of parasites your horse might be harboring. A fecal analysis will not reveal if your horse has encysted small strongyles, so even if the parasite egg count is zero it is still important to maintain a regular deworming program.