The "snakes in the grass" are taken in even more readily by our horses who spend most of their days eating grass. Horses and ponies are not infected by the dog and cat larvae but by their own group of visitors, namely, large and small red worms, tapeworms, roundworms, pinworms and bots. However, bots are taken in when the horses ingest the eggs. The bot fly lays its eggs on the hairs of the horses' legs so when the horses groom themselves the eggs are inadvertently ingested. The eggs then develop into the larvae stage, which is the bot, and attach to the stomach wall where they can cause ulcers.
Once the larvae of the other worms are ingested they continue their life cycle by migrating through the intestines and in the case of the roundworms, through the lungs too. On this journey they cause damage to the intestine causing weight loss, poor coat, pot belly, diarrhoea and colic. Coughing can be seen in foals and youngsters with roundworm. The small redworms, also known as cyathastomes, may also encyst themselves in the lining of the intestine. They can remain there for many years but have a tendency to emerge in Spring. If many emerge at one time this can cause acute colic and even death.
Many deworming "programs" exist but the best way to know when deworming is necessary is to do regular faecal egg counts and only deworm when there is a high parasite burden. As tape worm eggs and the encysted cyathastome larvae are not routinely diagnosed on worm egg counts it is advisable to treat at least once a year for these worms, ideally at the beginning of Spring with.
The most basic deworming program would involve deworming horse every 4 months with a broad spectrum dewormer such as PEGAFORT, PEGAMAX, EQUIMAXNF or PROMECTIN. In the beginning of Spring the product of choice would be PEGAQUEST, PANACUR for 5 days to treat the encysted larvae.
If a more intensive program is required a rotational program can be used alternating every 3 months between different dewormers. PEGAFORTE, PEGAMAX, EQIMAX and PROMECTIN can be used in January and July ANTEZOLE, PEGASOL in April, and PANACUR in September/October
But just as important is management of the environment to reduce the worm burden by for example keeping paddocks clean of manure, rotating pastures and feeding roughage off the ground.
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