Deworming your horses at least every eight weeks helps keep parasites under control and promotes overall health and performance. Horses, mules, and donkeys may carry several types of parasites at one time: large and small strongyles, roundworms, pinworms, tapeworms, stomach bots (botfly larvae), and lungworm. In large enough numbers, the parasites can rob your horse of blood, nutrients, and energy. A horse with a heavy parasite load can, over time, suffer chronic digestive problems.

The Parasite Problem
Horses, mules, and donkeys may carry several types of parasites at one time: large and small strongyles, roundworms, pinworms, tapeworms, stomach bots (botfly larvae), and lungworm. In large enough numbers, the parasites can rob your horse of blood, nutrients, and energy. A horse with a heavy parasite load can, over time, suffer chronic digestive problems.

Dewormers to the Rescue
Most horse owners use paste or pelleted deworming preparations. There are several formulations, each designed to help control specific types of parasites.

Work with your veterinarian to set up a deworming schedule, and then carefully read product labels to make sure you are providing the protection your horses need throughout the year.  Here are some oral broad-spectrum dewormers: Agri-Mectin Paste (Agri-Labs), Strongid Paste (Strongid), Zimecterin Gold (Zimecterin), and Ivermectin Paste (Durvet).  Here are some general “rules of thumb” for selecting which product to use:

* At least once a year, use a dewormer that is effective against tapeworms.

* In spring and fall, use a dewormer that is effective against bots.

* With each deworming, target large and small strongyles, roundworms, and pinworms.

Another option is to feed a daily dewormer such as Strongid’s Strongid C-2X or Farnam’s Continuex.  These products are added to the grain mixture and provide low levels of dewormer every day. Most experts will still recommend dosing for tapeworms and bots at least once a year. Ask your veterinarian if you should stop providing the daily dewormer before you dose for other parasites.

That’s the general guideline. Some horses may require even more care:

* Foals are more susceptible to certain types of parasites, including threadworms. Your veterinarian can help you set up a good deworming program for your foals.

* Consider deworming more often if your horse travels and frequently comes into contact with other horses, is maintained in a crowded pasture, or is older and may have a compromised immune system.

* If you have a horse with a severe parasite load, work with your veterinarian. Normal deworming products may not provide all the help your horse needs to return to optimal health.

Partner with a Probiotic…
Deworming products are chemicals that go into your horse’s digestive system and reduce the number of parasites. The chemicals themselves and the parasite die-off can disturb the horse’s gastrointestinal health by killing the “good bugs” the horse needs for proper digestion.  Administering probiotics prior and after deworming gives the population of “good bugs” a boost, so your horse’s gastrointestinal system returns to normal as quickly as possible.

Give a dose of probiotics 10-12 hours before administering the dewormer. Administer a 2nd dose of probiotics within an hour of deworming. In addition, give additional doses 24 hours later, 3 days later and 5 days later. A typical paste dose of probiotics is 30 grams containing 10,000,000 CFU /gram of the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum and Enterococcus faecium.

Read label directions to make sure the proper mixture of organisms is available and that you are providing the correct dose.

Dr. Dan DuBourdieu
www.ProbioticSmart.com

Dr. Dan holds a Ph.D. and M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. from Macalester College.  He has been involved in basic cell biology, biochemistry and immunology research at Hoffmann La Roche Inc., ImmuCell Inc. and other research companies.  He has worked with Bomac Vet-Plus Inc for a number of years doing animal nutrition product research and development.