A thorough worming regime in combination with good environmental management is absolutely vital to keeping your horse healthy. Worming programmes that involve dosing at certain times of the year, know as strategic dosing, can work well but can encourage resistance.
Resistance is the ability of worms to survive treatment with an anthelmintic (dewormer) that would generally be effective against them.
Resistance in worms is inherited. When resistant worms reproduce they can pass on the ability to resist treatment by the wormers. Once a worm is resistant against a particular wormer, that wormer will never work!
The more a wormer is used, the faster resistance will develop against it. This can lead to your horse suffering from a large worm burden that can cause disease.
For this reason Oaklands strongly suggests that you use faecal egg counts (FECs) to check your horse’s worm burden before worming him/her. FECs are inexpensive and provide fast results. They can ultimately save you money, as if your horse has a low egg count or none at all, you don’t need to give a wormer. FECs should ideally be performed every 10 weeks from March through to September.
If your horse needs worming we will advise you on the most suitable product to use and can supply you with that wormer at a very competitive price. If there is any concern over resistance we will advise a repeat FEC 14 days later to make sure the wormer is still working.
In this way, FECs can significantly reduce the number of wormers used and ensure that they continue to be effective for your horse.
Continuing to deworm using a strategic dosing programme will lead to further irreversible resistance developing – a huge problem for equine health in the UK.
Our Horse Health Programme includes four free FECs per year, to cover the whole of the risk period from March to September. Please contact us for the normal price and our discounted price for when more than six samples are submitted at once.
In addition, the Horse Health Programme includes an autumn tapeworm saliva test and appropriate treatment where necessary.
Using FEC along with good environmental management will ensure the best and most cost effective treatment for your horse. Please speak to one of our vets who can advise on the latest best practice for environmental management.
More on worms
The level of infection of an adult horse with redworms varies greatly from horse to horse, as does their level of egg shedding, even amongst those in the same pasture. This means that all horses require individual attention.
- Small – Cyathastomins
These are the most common type of worm to affect adult horses, however, it is rare for them to cause disease. All grazing horses will be infected with cyathostomins but they only cause disease when infections reach very high levels.
As autumn approaches, an increasing number of larvae become encysted in the gut wall where they stop developing and hibernate over winter. When the larvae emerge in the spring they can cause severe damage to the gut leading to diarrhoea, weight-loss, colic and sometimes death.
- Large – Strongyles
Strongyles can cause severe colic by migrating through the blood vessels of the intestinal tract. They are potentially the most dangerous but are not common.
Tapeworms are made up of segments containing eggs. The adult worms attach themselves at the junction of the small and large intestine. They draw nutrients away from the horse and in large numbers can cause an obstruction which can lead to colic. Tapeworm eggs rarely appear on faecal egg counts and so we advise routinely worming in winter or the use of a saliva test to check your horse’s exposure. This is included as part of the Oaklands Horse Health Programme.
Large roundworm eggs survive for years in the field and stables. Mainly foals and young horses are affected as adults develop immunity. Migrating larvae can cause poor growth, digestive and respiratory problems such as coughing and nasal discharge. You might see these large, white worms in the droppings after worming. Roundworm eggs look different and therefore can be specifically identified on a FEC allowing us to advise you on the most appropriate wormer to use in order to target them.
Pinworms (Oxyuris Equi)
Pinworms persist in the horse’s rectum. Adults move out and lay their eggs on the skin around the anus. This can cause intense irritation and rubbing under the tail and bottom. Treatment involves good management, cleaning around the anus and use of effective wormers.
There are many other types of worm in the UK – including bots, lungworm, threadworm and fluke. For more info, ask one of our veterinary team.
Our vets can also provide you with a personalised worming programme. Whether you are managing a larger yard or just have your own horse, please contact Oaklands Equine Hospital to speak to one of our veterinary team.