With the warmer weather horses that have been stabled for the winter will be spending more time turned out in paddocks. This is an optimum time to ‘spring clean’ stables. However, in order to help reduce horses’ exposure to re-infection, regular cleaning should be carried out throughout the year to remove hardy worm eggs that can survive for many years within stables and to reduce mites, the intermediate host of tapeworms.
Pasture should not be ‘over crowded’/’over stocked’. Ideally fields should contain no more than one or two horses per acre, as horses lower down the pecking order will be forced to graze the rough pasture where worm burdens will be higher.
Treatment for tapeworm is recommended every 6 months, with a treatment due in the spring in March/April. Control of tapeworm traditionally involved a double-dose of a pyrantel-based wormer, however in more recent years, praziquantel based wormers that specifically target tapeworm (i.e. EQUITAPE) have become available for use in horses.
Tips & Warnings
- Know that tapeworms are rarely deadly and may not cause any symptoms at all.
- De-worm the horse with a de-wormer that contains both ivermectin and praziquantel.
- Understand that horses develop tapeworms by accidentally ingesting mites that have eaten tapeworm larvae.
- Quarantine a horse with tapeworms until the tapeworm is gone.
If you suspect that your horse may have a worm infestation contact your vet immediately so that a blood sample can be taken.