Deworming Demystified

Considerations for your deworming routine.

From our partners at the Country Living Association

Deworming horses has always been important when considering equine care. It is common for horse owners to deworm every six to eight weeks with a different class of dewormer each time.

It can be easy for owners to forget the most important strategies to decrease worms: rotating pastures to allow eggs to desiccate and cleaning up manure in pastures and dry lots regularly. If deworming occurs too frequently, it may lead to resistant colonies of worms, making the process less effective, so it's important to find a balance.

The biggest parasite problem lies with small strongyles, a large intestinal parasite that has the ability to encyst in the mucosa of the large intestines. This parasite survives winter within the host, and then breaks out to begin another life cycle. This results in inflammation and ulceration of the large intestines. The most effective dewormers used for small strongyles are moxidectin or five consecutive days of fenbendazole. Use cautiously because when used too frequently, these agents will become less effective due to resistance.

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The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends performing a fecal egg count reduction test to determine whether changes need to be made in deworming practices.

A fecal sample should be taken at the time of small strongyle re-emergence in the spring. The horse should then be given dewormer. Following that, a fecal sample should be taken two weeks after the administration of the dewormer. If the fecal egg count is down then the dewormer can be used in your deworming rotation. If the fecal egg count is not down, the intestinal parasite at your location may be resistant to the dewormer, and it should not be used.

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To beat intestinal parasites, use smart deworming strategies. These strategies include regular manure removal, fecal exams and the use of dewormers based on the fecal exam.