Did you know that all horses have internal parasites? Over 150 types of parasites infect horses through soil, water, and flies. The most harmful parasites include large and small strongyles, bots, roundworms, threadworms, tapeworms, and lungworms. If your horse is infested with these parasites, it can cause weight loss, anemia, colic, coughing, wheezing, poor skin and coat health, and can even affect your horse's athletic performance.
If you suspect that your horse has harmful worms, your veterinarian can confirm it by testing a fecal sample. This will also determine if your horse's worm count is serious. It is normal for your horse to have some worms, but too many should raise concern. The following steps should be taken to deworm your horse:
Every horse needs a deworming schedule depending on individual needs and the time of year. Foals (baby horses) should be dewormed every month until they reach one year of age, while adult horses should be dewormed every two to three months (four to six times a year). Horse deworming is especially important in warm, moist climates where parasite eggs survive longer, and in cold climates where all parasites are not killed by the cold.
Equimax is available as a single-dose, all-in-one dewormer and can be given to foals and horses over four weeks of age. Strongid Paste is for horses over two months of age and has no reported side effects, but must be administered daily. Both medications are given orally. If you have more than one horse, deworm them all on the same date.
Rotating your horse's deworming medication is highly recommended. Use one medication for a grazing season; then switch to a dewormer with a different active ingredient the next season. This helps slow and prevent parasite resistance.
To prevent reinfestation, move your horse to a new pasture that has not been grazed for a few months. If you have more than one horse, deworm any new horses before introducing them to the same area as your other horses. Also, use feeders instead of feeding your horses directly on the ground.