Of all the parasites which affect a horse, gastrointestinal worms are among the most common. Such worms come in many different forms, each of which acts in different ways and produces subtly different symptoms. Tapeworms are especially widespread and dangerous, and so it’s vital that horse owners and breeders take steps to control their numbers. In this article, let’s consider exactly how this might be achieved. Read more
How much do you know about the dangers of encysted small redworm? Watch this video to find out why encysted small redworm are a serious health threat to your horse.
Be prepared to clear the challenge of encysted small redworms and “Time it Right” this autumn/winter.
By Dr Wendy Talbot BVSC Cert EM (Int Med) DECEIM MRCVS
Wendy graduated from Bristol University in 1999. She then went on to complete a residency at Liverpool University and holds a European Diploma in Equine Internal Medicine. After working in practice for 13 years, she joined Zoetis in 2012 as the National Equine Veterinary Manager.
What do you know about worm control? Guidance on the best ways to control worms in horses has changed in recent years and it’s important to move with the times to help keep our horses healthy. The best way to do this is to talk to your vet or Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) at your local equestrian store. Read more
The management of your foal’s health begins while the mare is still pregnant. Hopefully she will have received a tetanus vaccination booster around 4-6 weeks before foaling. The newborn foal will have received essential antibodies in the mare’s colostrum during the first suckling but the benefit of these decreases over time. It is vital therefore that you embark on the correct vaccination and worming programs and with the correct timing in order to keep the foal healthy and safe from illness. Read more
Most equestrians are familiar with worms – a term which describes a wide variety of parasites, all of which reproduce inside a horse’s gut, but understanding and managing worming for your horse is a big subject. In sufficiently large numbers, they can pose a severe risk to their host; an infested horse will likely suffer from a variety of digestive problems – which unfortunately in some cases, can even prove fatal.
Guarding against worms however, is a tricky business – while treatments are available, they should be used only sparingly for reasons which will become clear. Read more
What is a Tapeworm?
Tapeworms are an internal parasite that can affect horses. They have a flattened, segmented body which may grow many centimeters in length. There are 3 species of tapeworm that can affect horses in the UK:
A. perfoliata is the most common species of tapeworm in the UK. The head of A. perfoliata is equipped with four suckers with which the parasite can secure itself to the gut of its host. Nutrients are then absorbed from the host to the parasite. Read more
A ‘one size fits all’ solution can never be ideal. We need to manage the worm burden in every horse differently because they are individuals and every situation is unique. It is also important for us to use wormers responsibly. If we use wormers too frequently or unnecessarily, we could eventually reduce their effectiveness in controlling parasites (known as resistance). This is why the experts advocate more sustainable worm control, using a targeted approach to tackle a specific worm burden at any given point, rather than the old-fashioned ‘catch all’ method of routine worming every horse every 6-13 weeks.
Manage the worm challenge on the pasture
Reducing the number of worms on the pasture will help to keep the re-infection challenge to a minimum. This in turn reduces our reliance on wormers, slowing the drive for wormer resistance.
Test the worm burden
Regular faecal worm egg counts play a major role in allowing you to target your worming treatment effectively. They can also be used to check that your existing worming programme is working.
Plan your worm control programme
A thorough history of your horse’s health and worming regime, together with an assessment of his living environment and field companions, will help you to build the best possible worming programme.
Dose with the right active
When you have identified that a wormer is needed you should always select the one most appropriate for the parasite you are targeting. You must also make sure you treat your horse accurately according to weight. This will help to maintain the effectiveness of the wormers currently available to us.
Last spring Merial simplified the SMART worming message by introducing the SMART Rules, four simple rules to help horse owners plan an effective worming programme. In the second of these rules Merial takes a closer look to help you explain why refugia is so important.
In general, owners of horses have a tendency to hate the thought of their horses harbouring worms, but research has shown that actually allowing their horses to keep worms at a low level count within their system can actually be beneficial. These worms are known as ‘refugia’ and keeping a low population of treatment- resistant worms in the horses system, helps to dilute the number of treatment-resistant worms that are developing. Worming too frequently will deplete the number of treatment- sensitive worms, leaving only resistant worms in the gut which cannot be eradicated with wormers.
What is refugia?
Refugia is the population of worms not exposed to wormer treatment so includes the parasites in untreated horses and on the pasture. They pose little threat in small numbers, but serve to dilute the population of treatment-resistant worms. When the treatment-resistant worms breed, they pass on their resistance genes to the next generation. Keeping a population of worms in refugia, however, means that it is not only the resistant worms that breed. In this way the worm population always has a good proportion of treatment-sensitive worms, and worming treatments can continue to be effective now and in the future.
One of the best ways to maintain refugia is to use faecal worm egg counts to find out whether the horse really requires worming. We already have clients that currently practice this and they have already been advised that if their horse has a result of less than 200 eggs per gram (epg) they should not worm. This is because a low level of worms is not harmful and actually helps to maintain refugia. For more information on this or any other aspect of worming and worm counts give us a call.
As any horse lover and keeper knows; equine worms are an ever present threat. They can have an effect on all breeds of horse, ponies and donkeys and can be caught within the stable or when they are out grazing. Failing to control these parasites can result in severe weight loss, colic and even death. But aside from giving equine pramox or another type of wormer to your horse, do you need to do anything else? Some people argue that stabling a horse after worming is correct practice; however changing a horse’s routine can be very disruptive.
When your horses have worms, you want to go about it correctly to maintain a control on the problem; unfortunately you will never completely eradicate worms. As worms are spread through droppings it is wise to take precautions to make sure your beloved animals have minimal contact with the parasites again.
Horses Living Out
After worming your horse or horses with the appropriate wormer for that time of year, you should leave them in that field for 24 – 36 hours. After this process you should relocate them on to a fresh, clean field. If you haven’t been doing regular dung collecting, to help the paddock recover and reduce the egg burden, combine harrowing with a good lengthy rest (approx. 3 months). Harrowing a dirty pasture will effectively spread the worm eggs and larvae, and combined with pasture resting reduce the worm population.
Horses Living In
If your horse predominately spends time in the stable, after worming you should keep them stabled for approximately 48 hours. After this period, it is wise to completely muck out the stable, removing all dirty bedding. After the stable is empty, thoroughly clean the entire area with a tough disinfectant. Replace all the bedding with a fresh variety and make sure to scrub all feed and water buckets thoroughly.
When you have a new horse, you should treat them with equine wormers such as equest pramox as a general rule. They should be isolated to their own field initially and kept away from your other equines. This will prevent any unknown parasites from infecting other horses in the area.