Health

Bug Off, Bugs!

Equine spot-ons offer round-the-clock insect protection for improved horse health.

It’s a buggy world out there, and your horse often pays the price. Now that warmer weather has finally arrived, many pests that were only memories during the winter are coming out in full force. Your horse’s comfort - not to mention, his health - may face increased risk from a number of insects unless you intervene.

Certain ticks carry dangerous bacteria that can spread lyme disease. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus and eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis, also known as “sleeping sickness.” Horse flies can spread the viral disease known as equine infectious anemia when they bite an infected horse and then bite a healthy horse.

Flies also play a key role in the development of cutaneous habronemiasis, commonly referred to as “summer sores.” Those nasty, weeping skin lesions are a reaction to the migration of larval stages of two types of stomach worms (Habronema muscae and Draschia megastoma). When infected flies feed on a wound or abrasion, the worm larvae are transferred and cause the lesions.

You can’t seal your horse in a protective bubble, but a good vaccination program, as advised by your veterinarian, and proactive insect control strategy can protect his health and well-being. A spot-on product can play a very useful part in your horse’s fly control program.

Equine spot-on insect control products first came on the market in the mid- to late 1990s. Farnam’s Equi-Spot® Spot-on Fly Control for Horses debuted in 2002, and smart horse owners have been taking advantage of it ever since.

Equi-Spot® Spot-on Protection for Horses (formerly known as Equi-Spot® Spot-on Fly Control for Horses) kills and repels ticks that may transmit lyme disease. It kills and repels stable and face flies that may help cause summer sores, and it fights mosquitoes that may transmit West Nile virus.

The ingredients and formulation in Equi-Spot® Spot-on Protection for Horses are especially effective against ticks. This is important news for horse owners, with the increased concern about the recent rise in tick-borne diseases.

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“One of the areas where this product really does well is protecting against ticks. It really does excel in tick control,” says Bill Warner, senior specialty new product development manager at Farnam Companies Inc. “In this way, the product is similar to spot-ons you’d use on dogs to protect against ticks. It also contains the same active ingredient used in some of the tick sprays registered for use on clothing to protect people from ticks. Ticks are a major problem for horses in many parts of the country, and this is a good way to provide protection.”

So, how does spot-on protection work, and how is it different from spray-on repellent products? Good question.

Spot-ons are “contact repellent” products, meaning the pest actually has to come in contact with the horse for it to work. These products create a “hot foot” effect, which repels the insect.

Starting in 2015, the application process for Equi-Spot® Spot-on Protection for Horses was updated. The product itself isn’t new, but the application method is, so users will want to watch the short video on the Farnam website and learn how to apply it correctly. When properly applied, the Equi-Spot® formulation covers more of the horse’s body, providing optimal protection against pests. (To learn how to apply for the most effective results, go to http://equi-spot.com/ and click on the video link, or simply use your smartphone to scan the QR code on the package.)

Each Equi-Spot® product applicator contains a pre-measured amount of product designed to be applied in specific spots - each about the size of a quarter - over the horse’s body. These spots are located in three “defense zones.” Head, neck and chest are Defense Zone I; Defense Zone II is the body; while the legs are Defense Zone III.

One application provides continuous weatherproof protection for up to 14 days.

“People ask, ‘How can this small amount cover and protect a big animal?’ The analogy I like to use is that if you give a little kid a melting chocolate bar and wait a few minutes, it doesn’t take long for it to get everywhere! The spot-on is similar in that you place a small amount in numerous areas, and within just hours, it spreads over the horse’s body,” Bill says.

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While Equi-Spot® Spot-on Protection for Horses works on all horses over 12 weeks of age, it’s especially useful for pastured horses when it’s not always possible to regularly apply spray-on insect repellent. Another benefit is that Equi-Spot® product provides protection that won’t wash off in rain or when your horse sweats.

“A spot-on is ideal for situations when you can’t apply a product daily. It works very well to keep the insect burden down when you can’t see the horse every day to spray a repellent, especially if you are in an area where ticks are a problem,” Bill says. “However, if you are going riding by a marshy area where there are many horse flies, for example, then you can still use a fly spray that will provide extra repellency during the ride.”

With fly season starting, now’s the time to make a spot-on part of your multi-pronged approach to fly and insect control.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, since different pests will be a problem at different times, depending on your area and environment. For greatest success, you need to look at fly control from several angles:

    • Use a spot-on product and, when needed, a spray or wipe-on insect repellent.
    • A fly mask keeps annoying flies off your horse’s face, plus protects his eyes from dirt, debris and UV rays.
    • Fly repellent ointments and roll-ons are ideal for sensitive areas and around scrapes or wounds.
    • During hours of peak mosquito and fly activity, you may want to bring your horse into a stall where a fan will provide air movement to further discourage these flying pests.
    • Using a feed-thru fly control product throughout fly season will break the fly life cycle by preventing the development of fly larvae in the manure of treated horses.

For more tips on winning the fly and insect battle this summer, visit www.farnamhorse.com and go to the Tips & Tools page to download your free Fly Control Management Guide.

Farnam and Equi-Spot are registered trademarks of Farnam Companies Inc.