Deworming 101

Equine Deworming 101


By: Lara Schroer


Above all, when looking for a deworming schedule it is important to understand key factors that contribute to your decisions. Here we break down the dangers of parasites, which parasites to look out for, which dewormer works best for specific parasites, and how to maintain your pastures to help cut down on infection.

Understanding Internal Parasite Control


To clarify, internal parasite control is one of the most important factors in achieving a healthy horse. However, parasite control is not just as simple as picking up a tube of whatever dewormer is cheapest at your local feed store. Proper parasite management requires a working relationship with your equine veterinarian and, pasture management. Because a high level of parasites in horses can cause health issues, be sure to look out for: weight loss, diarrhea, colic, general unthriftiness of the skin and coat.



Relationship with Veterinarian


Establishing a good relationship with your veterinarian is important for more than equine emergencies. In order to treat your horse properly for any internal parasites, your veterinarian should perform a Fecal Egg Count test twice a year. First, ideally in the spring and fall, a small sample of fresh manure will be used to perform the FEC and determine if there are parasites present in the horse.


Next, the FEC should be performed before deworming in the spring to determine your horses parasite load. In addition to this, your veterinarian should suggest treatment for any EPG (eggs per gram of feces) count higher than 200. An EPG ranging from 200-500 is considered moderate and anything higher than 500epg is considered high.


Lastly, Fourteen days after the initial FEC and appropriate deworming medication has been given, most veterinarians will suggest a follow up egg count. Above all, this will help to determine if the parasites have developed any resistance to the dewormer used and can signify if more aggressive treatment is needed.


Daily Horse Worming Brown Horse

"Higher quality forage and supplements (ExcelEQ™ and ExcelEQ ProElite™) can help to balance the levels of bacteria and acid in a horses hind gut, allowing their body to more easily fight off a parasite infection."

Seven Most Common Parasites


There are about seven parasites commonly found in horses. Most commonly, large strongyles, roundworms, pinworms, and stomach bots. Each one of those tiny little worms is contracted and treated in its own unique way.


For example, the large strongyle eggs conveniently hide themselves on the one thing our horses cant resist...grass. That’s right, the very thing that all horses need to survive could contain hundreds of little tiny eggs just waiting to find their way into your horse's digestive system and continue their lifecycle.


In addition, those little yellow dots you may find all over your horses legs in the summer? Those would be bot eggs. The adult bot fly emerges in the mid to late summer months and lays up to 500 eggs in the 7-10 days they’re alive. Because these flies are biting and laying eggs on the horses legs, the horse becomes irritated and tries to itch. Subsequently, this leads to the horse making contact with fly eggs on his nose and mouth.  After that, the eggs make their way into the stomach of the horse where they develop into larvae, detach from the stomach and find their way back to the earth through the tail end of your beloved equine pal.



Five Classes of Dewormers


There are 5 basic classes of anthelmintics (dewormers). Don’t worry, there won’t be a spelling test at the end.
1. Macrocylic lactones (ivermectin and moxidectin); which induce selective paralysis of the parasite.
2. Benzimidazoles (fenbendazole, oxibendazole, mebendazole, and oxfendazole); inhibit formation of microtubules including cell disruption and prohibit egg production.
3. Pyrimidines (3 pyrantel salts used in horses); cause spastic paralysis of nematodes and tapeworms.
4. Heterocyclics (piperazine); spastic paralysis in the nematode, namely adult ascarids.
5. Pryazinoisoquinolines (praziquantel); parasite muscular contraction


Bay horse in field. Excel Pro Elite Camelina Oil horse supplement with omega 3, 6, and 9.

Healthy Pasture Management


Aside from chemical treatment, there are management practices that are useful for lowering the risk of parasite infestation. Pasture management is of utmost importance. Rotating pastures, manure cleanup, and avoiding overstocking can all help decrease your pastures parasite load.


In short, some horses may benefit from more management intensive nutrition practices to decrease their likelihood of becoming overloaded with parasites. Higher quality forage and supplements (ExcelEQ™ and ExcelEQ ProElite™) can help to balance the levels of bacteria and acid in a horses hind gut, allowing their body to more easily fight of a parasite infection. Afterall, a healthy horse is a happy horse!


*All horses are different and should always been seen by a veterinarian before given serious medical assistance. Please, get in contact with your vet and see what you can do to help your horse perform at its best.

Sources:


Equine Recommended Deworming Schedule, Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State, 2019, csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/Pages/equine-recommended-deworming-schedule.aspx.
Lane, Thomas J. “Parasite Control in Horses - Management and Nutrition.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, www.merckvetmanual.com/management-and-nutrition/health-management-interaction-horses/parasite-control-in-horses.
A special thanks to my amazing mentor and equine professor at Morehead State University, Dr. Katelyn Kaufman!

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