This educational article is brought to you by Merck Animal Health, the Official Animal Heath Care Provider of the USEA.
Gone are the days when you just grabbed a tube of whichever dewormer was on sale. We know now that the most effective deworming program involves treating the right horse at the right time for the right parasites.
The key is to work with your veterinarian to conduct fecal tests to determine your horse’s shedding status (how much and of which parasites he is shedding), then customize the deworming protocol. Low egg shedders typically require only two dewormings a year, whereas high shedders may require up to six treatments.
Horses that spend most of their time in stalls generally are at reduced risk of exposure to most parasites, particularly strongyle-type parasites and potentially tapeworms. If stalls are cleaned daily, then the risk of re-exposure to infective parasite eggs and larvae is greatly reduced (also, horse urine is toxic to developing strongyle larvae).
Because tapeworm transmission requires ingestion of infected mites on pasture, this parasite also presents less of a risk to horses that spend little time on pasture. Stall-confined horses, or those turned out in their own paddocks, are also less likely to encounter parasite eggs in the manure of other horses. Pinworms and ascarids, on the other hand, are parasites that can be transmitted in stalls as well as on pasture.
Now, more than ever, it is critical to partner with your veterinarian and take an active role in the parasite control process. Considerations beyond which dewormer to use are at play. Your farm is unique, which means your horses and their parasite burdens are unique and may benefit from management solutions that go beyond chemical parasite control strategies.
Top 10 non-chemical parasite control tips
For more information, visit Merck-Animal-Health-Equine.com. Consult your veterinarian for assistance in the diagnosis, treatment and control of parasitism.