Deworming and Vaccination Basics

Last week I touched on the subject of Fly Prevention, and this week I’ll be covering two of the most important health care routines for your horse – deworming and vaccines.

Deworming

Where To Start?

Dewormers can be overwhelming for both new and seasoned horse owners. Before even diving in, it should be known that dewormers work to remove parasite infestation within the horse. It is not going to prevent more parasites in the future, it only tackles removing the current amount within the horse. Some horses can have strong resistance, while others can be extremely susceptible. Getting a routine fecal check can help determine what kind of “shedder” your horse is. Heavy shedders are horses that shed a high level of parasite eggs and need to be dewormed more often. Moderate to light shedders don’t have as much of a parasite count and can be dewormed less often. You should always consult with your veterinarian when working on a deworming schedule for your horse.

What Are You Deworming Against?

Encrusted Small Strongyles
The most susceptible are young and senior horses.
Symptoms: Weight loss, colic, diarrhea and overall poor body condition

Large Strongyles (bloodworms)
These worms can be dangerous to organs and can weaken abdominal artery walls.
Symptoms: Diarrhea, weight loss and colic

Ascarids (roundworms)
 Dangerous to foals and horses under the age of two. Once ingested the larvae move through the veins into the liver, heart and lungs. Larvae in the lungs will eventually get swallowed and develop in the small intestine. Because the larvae migrate through the lungs a young horse could develop respiratory disease, have poor weight gain and colic.
Symptoms: Colic, poor weight gain and potential to develop respiratory disease

Threadworms
Dangerous to foals and young horses. Foals can become infected by nursing from a mare with the larvae. They live in the intestinal tract.
Symptoms: Diarrhea and weakness

Bots
In the summer months bot flies lay eggs (generally on the legs) on the horse, which are then consumed. Once inside the horse, they implant themselves in the mouth or intestines.
Symptoms: Poor overall body condition and mild colic

Tapeworms
Tapeworms reside in the horse’s intestines and don’t always cause noticeable problems.
Symptoms: Mild colic and diarrhea

Pinworms
Not as dangerous as the some of the other worms listed here, but can cause very visible problems with your horse
Symptoms: Itching around the horse’s rectum and tail

What Product Should I Use (And When)?

How often you deworm can impact your horse’s health dramatically. Keep in mind over-deworming can lead to parasites building a resistance to dewormers. What product you use, and when, will help keep them healthy all year!

A general rule of thumb \ would be to use a Fenbendazole in the Spring (like Panacur), an Ivermectin/Praziquantel in the Summer and Winter (like Equimax) and a Pyrantel in the Fall (like Strongid). If problems persist with parasites, you can use a Moxidectin (like Quest) to clear out most remaining parasites. There are also daily dewormer options to help combat parasites.

What Else Can Be Done?

There are factors that can be attributed to how susceptible your horse is to parasites, including age, environment and climate. Make sure you clean up manure from your pastures and paddocks and routinely clean stalls and run-in sheds to maintain a clean environment for your horse. Keep in mind young and senior horses have weaker immune systems and may need additional assistance to thrive.

Vaccines

Where To Start?

Equine vaccines are designed to help prevent your horse from contracting known diseases. We often hear about West Nile or Rabies, but there is a full spectrum of debilitating diseases your horse could contract. The scary part is you never know when your horse could be exposed – it could be at a show, a new horse at the barn, a trail ride with friends – so it’s better to vaccinate and be prepared, rather than take a risk. Many shows now require a record of current vaccinations to participate. The core vaccines according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) are Eastern/Western Equine Encephalomyelitis, Rabies, Tetanus and West Nile Virus.

What Are Concerns In Ohio?

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
EEE is a fatal neurological disease in horses that is mostly contracted through mosquitoes. It effects the brain and nervous system causing the horse to lose coordination, lose the ability to stand and render it unable to have normal bodily functions. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Depression, moderate to high fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, neurological signs

Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE)
WEE is very similar to EEE, being a neurological disease spread by mosquitoes – but it effects horses less severely than EEE. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Depression, moderate to high fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, neurological signs

West Nile Virus (WNV)
West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and effects the neurological system. It can be difficult to differentiate between EEE/WEE and WNV since the symptoms are quite similar. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Depression, mild low-grade fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, neurologic signs

Tetanus
Tetanus is caused by the bacteria clostridium. Although it is commonly picked up from wounds, it is always present in the environment. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Body stiffness, spasms, sensitivity, difficulty eating (referred to as lockjaw), sweating, rapid breathing

Equine Herpesvirus – Rhinopneumonitis (Rhino)
Type 1 (EHV-1) and type 4 (EHV-4) is a highly contagious, respiratory infection. EHV-1 is widely feared for causing mares to abort their foals. Rhino is also concern for younger horses who have not had a chance to build immunity. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms:  Fever, lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge and coughing 

Equine Influenza
The flu is another highly contagious respiratory infection. It impacts young horses and those with weak immune systems more often. It is easily contracted in high-traffic areas, like racetracks, show grounds and barns with horses coming and going regularly. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Fever, depression, muscle weakness, coughing, nasal discharge

Rabies
Rabies is a neurological disease that is fatal. The only way to test for Rabies is to send the brain into a lab to confirm, making it difficult to diagnose. Rabies is contracted by the contact of bodily fluids, often seen in bite wounds from infected animals. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Colic, depression, lameness and agitation

Potomac Horse Fever
Potomac Horse Fever is a bacterial infection from ingesting mayflies and aquatic insects. Though recovery is very possible, it is a very costly disease to treat. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Fever, diarrhea, laminitis, colic, and decreased abdominal sounds – pregnant mares may abort infected fetuses

Equine Botulism
There are three syndromes of the botulism disease – wound botulism where the toxin contaminates a wound, shaker foal syndrome where the spores are ingested and forage poisoning where contaminated food is consumed. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Muscle paralysis, difficulty chewing/swallowing and overall weakness

As always, it is encouraged to work with your veterinarian to decide which vaccines are a good option for your horse. While the core vaccines are recommended for all horses, others are deemed risk-based depending on your geographical location. Factor in the age, condition and use of your horse – if it’s a well travelled show horse or race horse, it will have different needs than an occasional trail horse. Keeping records of your horse’s vaccination history, deworming schedule and other health related information is highly encouraged.

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

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