Parasite control

by W. David Wilson, MRCVS

What Can Your Veterinarian Do For Parasite Control?

With a myriad of choices, designing a worming program for your horse can prove quite cumbersome. Unfortunately, the increased availability of commercial parasite control has reduced the role for veterinarians in the planning and implementation of comprehensive programs.

Beware! Parasite control is complex and entails much more than deciding which of many available anthelmintics to select from the feed store or through the latest horse supply catalogue. Your equine practitioner is the one most qualified to address and oversee a program that best protects the health of your horse and your individual needs.

The following steps reveal how your veterinarian can work with you in managing parasites for your horse.

Step 1--Initial consultation and assessment

You and your veterinarian should establish and evaluate the following:


Step 2--Evaluation of the current parasite status

To more specifically evaluate the current parasite situation, your veterinarian will likely collect, or ask you to collect, two or three fresh fecal balls from at least 20% of the horses on the farm. The horses chosen should represent the spectrum age and management practices employed on the farm. The results from the fecal exam will provide a very useful guide to overall status of the herd and degree of pasture contamination and transmission potential.

Step 3 - Evaluation and correction

Did you know that you can eliminate most parasite species from the environment through several management strategies, without the use of dewormers? For example, the regular (at least twice weekly) removal of feces from paddocks and pastures, either manually or using tractor-powered vacuum units, has been shown to greatly reduce the number of infective eggs and larvae. Other strategies include: