Parasites, including varying types of worms and bots, are present in your horse’s paddocks and living areas and can make their way inside your horse, affecting him throughout their life cycles. Left untreated, internal parasites can cause weight loss, itching, lethargy, digestive and gastro-intestinal problems, malnourishment and even colic. Fortunately, controlling internal parasites in your horse is fairly easy with an appropriate horse deworming schedule developed with the help of your veterinarian.
Horse dewormers, commonly referred to as “wormers,” target elimination of certain types of worms and help prevent their reoccurrence. Horse wormers are available in both pellet and paste varieties, which makes it easy to dispense to your horse. Common types include Ivermectin, Fenbendazole, Moxidectin and Pyrantel Pamoate, each of which target a range of typical internal equine parasites.
There are many different opinions on how often to deworm a horse, with suggested times ranging from every two weeks to once a quarter. Fecal testing is the best way to determine if your horse needs to be dewormed and what parasites should be targeted. Keep in mind that tape worms cannot be tested for, so you should work with your veterinarian to determine when is best to deworm for this type of parasite. Not all horses have the same deworming needs, and the right schedule for your horse can depend on a variety of factors. A unique horse deworming schedule should be developed with input from your veterinarian. Some factors that you may want to consider include:
- Age – foals and younger horses are more likely to have internal parasite issues. There are also some wormers, such as Moxidectin, that should be administered with extreme care to foals.
- Region – Depending on climate, various parasites will thrive.
- Transport – If you will be showing your horse frequently or visiting new places, there will be a higher chance of exposure to a variety of parasites.
- Season – Similar to region and climate, certain parasites are only active in certain temperature conditions.
- Barn Culture – Are others in your barn routinely deworming? Is manure being handled properly at your farm? If not, your horse may have a higher exposure to parasites.
One final thing to consider is the potential of dewormer resistance, which can occur if deworming is done too frequently. Follow-up fecal testing and egg counts can help to determine when deworming is necessary. Switching the type of horse wormer given is also a common strategy. Taking the time to properly develop a horse deworming schedule specific to your horse’s personal needs will help keep your horse healthy and parasite free.
Let us know how often you deworm in the comments and what your favorite strategy is!