All horse owners know the importance of treating horses, and other equids, for internal parasites. The parasites we are most concerned about are the small strongyles, round worms and tapeworms that have potential to cause disease in our horses. These worms live in the intestines and shed eggs through the horses feces and on to the pasture where they hatch into larva only to be picked up again by other horses. Parasite infections in can lead to weight loss, ill thrift, and even colic. Our goal as horse owners and Veterinarians is to minimize the potential for disease caused by these nasty little creatures.
When I graduated from veterinary school, deworming treatments were recommended every 6 to 8 weeks. We sometimes even recommended daily worming medication in the form of supplements. These methods of treatment were successful against large strongyle worm infections but failed to eliminate small strongyles and other types of parasites. It has also possibly led to deworming medication resistance in worms.
More recently, recommendations have changed. The goal now is to limit parasite infections keeping horses healthy and minimizing clinical illnesses. We are also trying to avoid further development of resistance to deworming medications and control parasite egg shedding into the environment. We accomplish this with less frequent deworming and monitoring worm burdens through fecal analysis.
In general, we now recommend that healthy, adult horses are dewormed twice a year. Preferably in the spring and summer here in the Northwest. We recommend that you use two different classes of dewormer and that one of them is effective against tapeworms, which are now believed to be an important cause of colic. We also recommend that you have a fecal analysis done at least once a year for each horse to determine if your deworming protocol is working. We also recommend that a fecal is performed on any new horse to your herd or on one that is losing weight or condition. Fecal samples can be brought in to our clinic anytime for analysis. A sample should be as fresh as possible, stored in an air tight container, and refrigerated until delivered to the clinic.
Young horses and foals require a little more intense schedule of treatment. During their first year of life, foals should receive four deworming treatments. The first should occur at 2-3 months of age with a product that gets roundworms. The second at weaning, third treatment at 9 months of age, and again at 12 months. Yearlings and 2- year-olds should also be treated 3 to 4 times per year.
Pretty straight forward and simple, right? Of course, these are general recommendations. Each horse and ranch are different and there are many variables to consider. It is important for you to discuss your situation with a veterinarian to determine any additional recommendations for your horses. Call Snake River Veterinary Center if you have any questions at (208) 452-7950. The veterinarians at Snake River Veterinary Center recommend you treat with a product that is effective against tapeworms and bots, as well as small strongyles going in to the fall. We recommend a product that contains ivermectin and praziquantal.
So, now a little incentive to get your fall horse deworming done. Snake River Veterinary center is offering a special discount for anyone who purchases their fall deworming products from us before November 1, 2015. We will extend a 10% discount on all equine dewormers and fecal analyses purchased prior to this date. Just mention you read this blog to receive your discount.