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A new horse owner’s guide to the basics of deworming

By April 28, 2016Blog

Worms live off the nutrients that are found in horse’s bodies without offering anything in return. They also have the very real potential of causing damage to the internal organs of the horse. There are various types of worms that are found in horses, some more damaging to their health than others.

There’s an array of options and advice available from experts on deworming horses. Some advocate the rotational deworming strategy, whereby every horse is dewormed with a different active ingredient on a three month rotation. Others advice to use a Fecal Egg Count (FEC) as a starting point to determine a deworming strategy.

A Fecal Egg Count (FEC) is a test done by a vet that identifies various worms and their eggs in horse manure. It is important to keep in mind that a FEC is only used as an indication as not all adult worms produce eggs. FEC mainly tells you about small strongyles, which is the major threat but not the only one.

Almost all horses have worms but this is not necessarily life-threatening when managed correctly. Ideally, a horse should have a low worm count (200 eggs per gram of manure) as opposed to a higher count (500 – 1000). Horse owners should familiarise themselves with signs that their horse may be suffering from a high worm count. This way, immediate action can be taken and the correct dewormer can be recommended by the vet.

The following signs indicate a high worm egg count in horses:

  • Dull coat
  • Poor growth rates
  • Weight loss
  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • Lethargy and poor performance
  • Anaemia
  • Poor appetite
  • Coughing
  • Tail rubbing
  • Diarrhea
  • Colic

The most common worms are the large and small strongyles, as well as roundworms and tapeworms. These worms are ingested by the horse from infected pastures and travel through to various parts of its body. They then grow into adults and release their own eggs, which are released back into the pasture through the horse’s manure.

There are more than 100 types of worms but some are more prevalent than others. These are:

  • Large strongyles (bloodworms or redworms)
  • Small strongyles
  • Roundworms (ascarids)
  • Tapeworms
  • Lungworms
  • Pinworms
  • Bots
  • Threadworms

Ways to minimise the spread of worms include removing all manure from paddocks and stables as often as possible, feeding the horses in a feed bucket and not on the ground, and also to rotate paddocks if possible. Also, new horses should be dewormed immediately before being allowed in the same paddock as other horses.

There is no single answer when it comes to deworming, it’s recommended that horse owners contact their vet when in doubt.

The Pega Range offers horse owners 4 deworming options, the range covers a broad spectrum of worms. The product offering is as follows:

  • Pegaquest: A long acting broad spectrum dewormer that treats roundworms (including encysted stages if small stronglyes) tapeworm and bots.
  • Pegamax: Full-spectrum dewormer for regular all-year-round use. Treats roundworms, tapeworms and bots.
  • Pegasol: A switch dewormer that treats strongyles, pinworms and ascarids.
  • Pegaforte: A small volume apple-flavoured dewormer for easy administration. Treats roundworms, tapeworms and bots.