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Developing A Deworming Program

May 30, 2008
A regular parasite control program is critical to your horse's health. Infestations of internal parasites can cause your horse to feel ill all of the time, become colicky, and can even cause death. Parasites can cause damage to a horse's internal organs. Signs of parasite infestation include overall poor condition, dry and dull coat, diarrhea, bloating, and an itchy tail. Deworming your horse regularly is necessary because he can be continually re-infected from parasite eggs in pastures or from bot flies. A haphazard deworming program is hard on your horse's system; Getting rid of internal parasites and keeping them away is the best procedure for your horse's health.

In some cases where a horse is confined, as with stallions, or he is very young, old or not thriving, a modified worming program may be advisable. Consult your veterinarian to determine whether an individualized program is recommended.

Parasite Life Cycle

Most internal parasites are ingested as larvae, where they migrate to your horse's digestive system and live in the intestines. There, they mature and lay eggs which are passed out in manure. The eggs hatch into larvae and spread into the environment. Your horse, or another horse, ingests the larvae, and the cycle continues.

Purge Deworming

Deworming your horse with a paste dewormer purges the adults already in his system before they lay eggs. It breaks the cycle by stopping any more eggs from being passed. The problem lies with the fact that if he shares a grazing area with other horses or if manure is allowed to lie in his pasture, he can be immediately reinfected; The smaller the area, the bigger the potential problem. Horses normally will not graze near manure, but if the grazing area is not large enough to sustain the number of horses, or your pastures are not properly rotated, the desire for grass may over ride his natural tendencies.

Deworming with a paste dewormer requires all of the horses that share grazing space to be treated at the same time, thereby killing all of the adult parasites before eggs are laid. It is also good practice to remove manure from any grazing area. If you choose a paste dewormer, it is important to give your horse the proper dose. Be certain to read the dosage information on the packaging and to adjust dose according to each horse's age and weight. Rotate between wormers that have different types of chemical bases. This will not only kill a broader spectrum of parasites, it helps prevent parasite immunity to one chemical.

A sample rotation schedule might be:

1. Spring (March) An Ivermectin based product controls large strongyles, small strongyles, pinworms, ascarids, hairworms, large-mouth stomach worms, bots, lungworms, and intestinal threadworms.

2. Late Spring (May) A fenbendazole-based product (Safe Guard) controls large strongyles, encysted early- and late-third-stage and fourth-stage cyathostome larvae, small strongyles, pinworms, and ascarids.

3. Summer (July) A pyrantel pamoate based product (Strongid) control large strongyles, small strongyles, pinworms, ascarids, and tapeworms when double-dosed.

4. Fall (September) A moxidectin based product (Quest) controls large strongyles, small strongyles, pinworms, ascarids, encysted cyanthostomes, hairworms, large-mouth stomach worms, and bots

5. Late Fall (November) An oxibendazole based product (Anthelcide) large strongyles small strongyles, large roundworms, and pinworms, including various larval stages and threadworms

Daily Deworming

Another option is to use a daily dewormer. It is recommended to first use a larvacidal dewormer such as ivermectin or moxidectin before beginning a daily treatment plan. This will help destroy existing larvae and adult parasites. Pyrantel Tartrate is the chemical ingredient in daily wormers. It controls large strongyles, small strongyles, pinworms, ascarids, and tapeworms. If you choose a daily wormer, your horse should also receive ivermectin or moxidectin in early Spring and late Fall to control bots AND praziquantel in early Spring to control tapeworms.

Timing is Critical

For daily programs, be certain that your horse gets his daily dose every day, as missed doses will decrease the levels of dewormer in his system, rendering it less effective.

For purge programs, timing is essential. If you treat too early, targeted worms will be too immature to be affected by the dewormer. If you treat too late, adult worms will have the opportunity to produce eggs, infesting your horse's environment and raising his (and other horses) risk of exposure.

How to Stay on Schedule

Post a calendar in your barn. Clearly mark the day for each deworming.

Purchase the entire year's worth of dewormer at one time. Write the horse's name and the date to be given with an indelible pen on the tube.

Put the wormer out where it can be seen the day before you will administer it.

Keep wormer out of the reach of children and pets.

Following a regular deworming schedule is critical to keeping your horse healthy.
About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in Southern Idaho with horses and the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the links below. Amazing Equine Network System - Buy Sell or trade anything equine related. Get More Horse Classified coverage and distribution with less cost and work. Award Winning Horse Forum
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