Equine Parasites

Horses that are affected by any type of parasite will show a loss of coat bloom and an equally noticeably loss of energy.

Routine worming and sound parasite management go a long way toward reducing the chance of these devastating conditions afflicting your horse.


This ailment is caused by bloodworms that attach themselves to the large intestine. The eggs they lay are passed in manure and infest pastures. Horses eat the eggs, which when ingested become larvae that cause blood clots, brain damage, and colic. Indications of strongyles include high fever, constipation or diarrhea, loss of appetite, and generl lethargy. Because an infected horse's throat will swell, a reluctance to drink is another sign.

Prevention is the best medicine. Worming medication administered every two months will rid the body of bloodworms. Removing manure from pastures and mowing grass to expose worm eggs to sunlight are good practices. So is rotating pastures to keep horses away from concentrations of manure. Lime is stalls kill eggs, larvae, and adult worms that have made their way indoors.

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Ascarids are roundworms that hatch in intestines, then move to the lungs, where they are coughed up into the stomach and pass out of the horse. While inside the horse's body, they cause damage to the liver, heart, and lungs; they also can cause circulatory and intestinal blockage that produces ruptures. The ascarid cycle lasts about 10 weeks, so 2 months of worming medication reduces the amount of damage.

Arabian horse


A horse that rubs his tail against fence posts or other solid objects may be trying to tell you he has pinworms. The itching they cause leads to hair loss from scratching and secondary infections. Again, routine worming and pasture control are the most effective preventive steps.

Bot Flies

Bots are not worms, but flies that usually deposit their eggs on the hair of a horse's forelegs, although they also can appear onthe flanks and hind legs. The horse reponds to the itching by licking, which causes the eggs to enter the system and hatch into larvae in the stomach.

Treatment begins with scraping the eggs from the hair with a knife blade or washing them away with hot water. A dose of worming paste will kill eggs or larvae that already have been ingested.

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