Winter deworming

Lets talk about deworming..

Between November and January, or after the first frost, is the time for us horse owners to protect our horses from large burdens of worms. The two types of parasites to address at this time of the year are:

Cestodes (Tapeworms) – Large burdens can cause digestive disturbances including spasmodic and impaction colic and loss of condition. Tapeworms are known to live in the the lining of the caecum and ileum, where they can do damage.

Cyathostomin/Small Strongyles (Encysted small redworm) – Hibernate in the gut wall and emerge in the spring in considerable numbers if left untreated. This can cause damage to the intestinal wall. Indications of a large burden include sudden weight loss, diarrhoea, colic and even sudden death.

Neither of these parasites can be detected from a faecal worm egg count so it’s important to choose a dewormer which targets both. Tapeworm however, can be detected by carrying out a saliva test.

Regardless if you deworm routinely throughout the year or opt for a faecal worm egg count programme; this is the time of the year for deworming. A combination of strategic deworming alongside regular faecal worm egg counting is typically a good approach to take.

Some horses are easier to deworm than others. There are many techniques out there to help with the less co-operative horses. Some include hollowing out a carrot and disguising the tube (or its contents) in the centre, adding the dewormer to the horse's feed along with molasses, and distracting horses by offering an apple and while their mouth is open, quickly administering the dewormer.

However, personally I have found the best way to deworm is by desensitising.

My older horse at 26 years old knows every trick in the book and as a result, deworming him was a 20 minute battle which included either being crushed against the stable wall or rag dolled – sometimes both! Even if I somehow managed to get the tube in his mouth there was no guarantee it would not be spat out seconds later. It was a stressful situation for all involved. So discovering this trick was a game changer.

Watch my video here:

We would love to hear about other effective methods, if you have one that works – please get in touch!

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