What are equine worms?

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Horse dewormers eliminate internal parasites and are available in paste, pellet, or liquid form. Experts recommend quarterly or biennial deworming to prevent resistance. Ivermectin is the most important dewormer and can be used for all parasites except tapeworms. Natural dewormers like diatomaceous earth can cause internal bleeding and upset the pH balance. Daily dewormers are not recommended for high-risk horses. Symptoms of intestinal parasites include a distended abdomen, opaque hair, weight loss, colic, and diarrhea. Equine probiotics are recommended after deworming. Deworming can be made easier by using flavored dewormers and getting the horse used to accepting things in its mouth with a carrot.

Horse dewormers (or dewormers) get rid of internal parasites in your horse. They are administered orally in paste, pellet or liquid form. All dewormers are simple to use, easy to obtain, and relatively inexpensive.
Until 2005, dewormers were recommended at regular intervals of 4 to 8 weeks; but experts have since come to believe that healthy adult horses do best with quarterly or biennial deworming.

Horses that are exposed to more frequent worming will develop resistance, while horses left with minimal exposure will develop strong immunity to internal parasites over time. If you are unsure about when to use a dewormer for horses, fecal egg count tests are available through your veterinarian. It should be noted that the tests are only 40% to 90% accurate for tapeworms and bots.

Horses are treated for a variety of internal parasites such as tapeworms, large and small strongyles, pinworms, bots, hairworms, lungworms, threadworms, and mouth and stomach worms. With the exception of Ivermectin, Moxidectin and Prazuantel, resistance to dewormers has become widespread.

Ivermectin is perhaps the most important contributor to horse dewormers. It can be used for all classes of parasites except tapeworms, which mainly threaten grazing horses. For those with tapeworm problems, an Ivermectin/Praziquantel or Ivermectin/Pyrantel combination is available and can be given in the spring and fall. For all other pests, a simple regimen of Ivermectin at each change of season will suffice.

Ivermectin does not remove roundworms in horses younger than two years of age. These young people should be given a combination of Ivermectin and Praziquantel to meet their needs. It should also be noted that Moxidectin should not be used in foals younger than 6 months of age.

Among natural dewormers, diatomaceous earth (DE) is often suggested. While it is great for getting rid of bugs around the barn and in stables, and is often used with success in cows and sometimes horses, it can cause internal bleeding in horses. This internal bleeding can lead to blockages or weaken the walls of the stomach lining. DE can also upset the pH balance and create an intestinal environment that will cause a common ailment to become dangerous. Therefore, many horse owners feel that it should not be taken internally and can cause colic in the horse. Other natural dewormers such as garlic, cloves, pumpkin seeds, tobacco and toxic metals have all proven ineffective and in some cases there is a narrow margin of safety in exposing your horse to them.

The daily dewormers are low-dose pyrantel tartrate. The goal is to kill recently ingested worm larvae before they have a chance to mature or cause harm. Most horses develop a strong resistance to all dewormers, but especially those administered daily. It is recommended not to rely on these daily wormers, as they simply do not offer enough protection. This is especially true for high risk horses; mainly elderly, immunocompromised or horses less than one year old.

If you suspect your horse has intestinal parasites, the symptoms are:

a pregnant-looking distended abdomen (often with little coverage on the ribs and poor musculature)
opaque hair
problems maintaining weight
normal non-payment
boring attitude, low energy
slow or stunted growth
unexplained cough in foals, seniors or horses with compromised immune systems
Equine probiotics are recommended to be used several days after deworming the horse. This will restore the natural organisms in your digestive tract that have been killed by the dewormer.
Deworming your horse is simple and shouldn’t be traumatic for him. If your horse is suspicious or resists accepting dewormer, it is best to start by popping a carrot into your horse’s mouth. By putting the carrot between his teeth and moving it around, this will get him used to accepting the things that are put into his mouth. Once he gets comfortable with the carrot, you can substitute dewormer for it.

Many dewormers are available with apple or molasses flavoring. This will contribute to your horse’s eagerness to accept his dewormer.

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