Worming treatments and management advice from our equine vets
Faecal Worm Egg Counts (FWEC) performed in house from our team of nurses
Equisal Saliva Tapeworm testing and Tapeworm Blood Serum testing (external)
Redworm Blood serum testing (external)
*FWECs are useful to detect the burden of strongyles (roundworm) in your horse’s system. We use Threshold 350EPG
*Tapeworms cannot be counted in faeces so we offer a saliva tapeworm test or blood serum which gives a reading indicating if treatment is needed. These are useful in Spring and Autumn when tapeworm in prevalent.
*Likewise with small redworms (cyathastomes) a FWEC cannot give accurate results as they do not detect the encysted (immature) larvae in the large intestine, they only detect the eggs produced by mature worms. The encysted stage is the form in which the majority of the worm burden exists, and in severe cases, can cause problems such as colic impactions and colitis. The new blood test is advised in the late autumn-winter months when encysted larvae is at it’s highest prevalence and is most appropriate in horses where we are unsure if they need treated with moxidectin or not, high risk horses we will advise to worm regardless. It is also useful in cases of mild recurrent colic symptoms, diarrhoea and weight loss to determine if larval cyathostominosis is a contributing factor.
*Tapeworm has a 6 month cycle so we test Bi annually and treat accordingly.
Autumn (Sept-Early Nov) FWEC and Tapeworm Testing
- Pyrantel (double dose if for tapeworm)
- Praziquantel (tapeworm specific)
*Donkeys- Ivermectin to treat lungworm if there are concerns over this, however, it is not as prevalent as people think.
Winter (late Nov-Feb) FWEC, Redworm blood +/- Tapeworm test if not yet done
Test for encysted small redworm (Cyathastomes) in addition to strongyles +/- perform Tapeworm if not yet tested or treated for.
We assess every individual case, and always recommend testing, however each case is an individual eg an old or young horse is more vulnerable to Larvael cyathastonomosis, these are more likely to require moxidectin treatment. If a horse is grazing on the same pasture as a diagnosed redworm case we again will treat for this, likewise if there are any clinical signs of a burden such as loose droppings, poor condition, unexplained colics….
Moxidectin- eg Equest or Equest Pramox
*reserve moxidectin for this time of year only, due to its effectiveness against cyathastomes
Spring (Mar-April) FWEC and Tapeworm Test
Pyrantel (double dose for tapeworm)- eg Strongid P or Embotape
Praziquantel (tapeworm specific)
Summer (May-Aug) FWEC
Test and treat for strongyles if required
Eg Pyrantel - Strongid P or Embotape
Resistance may be increased when too low a dosage of a wormer is used for the weight of the horse, or if the wormer is used too frequently. To help reduce the incidence of resistance we should:
- Use FWEC testing to assess which horses require worming treatment.
- Rotate the active ingredient/ class of wormer used for each grazing season.
- Target specific worms with an effective product at the correct time of year.
- Use pasture management techniques to reduce the worm burden on the pasture and help limit the reliance on wormers.
- Remove droppings on a regular basis (preferably daily, but at least twice a week) and don’t spread horse manure on pasture.
- Don’t overstock pastures: a maximum of two horses per hectare or 1-1.5 acres per horse is recommended and graze horses of a similar age together.
- Harrow pasture during dry conditions to expose soil-borne larvae so that they dry out and die.
- Graze paddocks with other livestock too. This will dilute the horse worm burden on your pasture.
Pyrantel- Strongid P or Embotape. Orally, (spreading around anus is ineffective).
Mares and Foals
4 weeks prior to foaling, give Equest (moxidectin) then again at 2+ weeks post foaling - Do Not give any sooner as we do not want metabolites passing via milk to the foal.
Alternatively give a single dose at foaling time of Noramectin (Ivermectin).
8 Weeks post foaling mare can resume her original worming schedule.
Worm at 2-3 months old with single dose panacur (fenbendazole) (earlier age if any concerns) then a second dose panacur 2 months later
*Moxidectin is deemed unsafe for foals under 4 months and not licensed for foals under 6.5 months of age
At 6 months old do FWEC and then worm accordingly from then onward.
As the foal gets older and grazes, the risk of other parasites such as the small and large redworms, and tapeworm take over. If the foal is grazing with several other horses of mixed age, then ideally a first tapeworm test should be done at 6 months old using a saliva test. If tapeworm is present they can be dosed using either a double dose of Strongid P (pyrantel) or a single dose of praziquantel.
From 6 months of age test every 6-8 weeks until a yearling, only using a worming treatment if needed.