Horses can contract worms through their feed, bedding, or by coming in contact with other animals that are infested. These worms can cause a variety of health problems ranging from digestive disorders to blood clots, and can even cause a horse to become malnourished. In order to keep your equine healthy, horse wormers should be given on a regular basis, as they can also be used as a preventative measure.
Types of Worms
Horses can be subject to pinworms, and these pests result in intense itching, which could eventually cause skin disorders. Roundworms are also common, and can cause heart and lung disorders if left untreated. Bots are actually immature flies, and lay eggs on the horse’s body, which are then ingested by licking. After swallowing, they can cause a number of digestive problems. Bloodworms also attach themselves to intestinal walls, where they can prohibit digestion and eventually lead to blood clots. Tapeworms come from mites on plants, and can cause colic and malnutrition.
Checking for Equine Worms
Checking for worms is normally done through what is known as a faecal egg count. This is a testing method whereby fresh horse manure is checked with a special solution that will help identify the presence of worms. Faecal egg testing can be performed by a veterinarian, but there are also home testing kits available as well. The results of this test will be used to determine what if any horse wormers are needed. Testing should be done at least once or twice each year, or more often if the horse begins experiencing health problems or appears to be losing weight.
Treating Worms in Horses
There are a variety of equine wormers on the market that are designed to eliminate the different types of parasites. Pyrantel is a product that is useful at eliminating bloodworms, pinworms and roundworms. Benzimidazole is also useful at eliminating bloodworms, roundworms and pinworms, and is safe to use on pregnant mares. Ivermectin can eliminate nearly any type of parasite, including bots. Since there are multiple medications that can be used to treat the same pest, rotating different ones is often done to avoid having an animal build up a resistance.
Typical Worming Schedule
To provide adequate protection, most veterinarians recommend giving equine wormers on a rotating schedule. A typical rotation might involve giving Pyrantel for a two-month period, followed by benzimidazole for two more months, and then Ivermectin for the next two months. The cycle would then be repeated so that each medication is given for two months at a time twice a year. A veterinarian may propose a different cycle based upon how prevalent a particular parasite is in a given area, or based upon the health of a particular animal.
To ensure your animal’s good health, it’s important to check regularly for parasites, and provide the right horse wormers if they are discovered. Wormers come in paste, power, liquid or an ingestible form, so you can choose the one that is easiest for you to administer.