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Vet's Corner - Equine Parasites: A Constant Threat


By Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS Manager, Veterinary Professional Services, Merial

With approximately 40 parasite species waiting to infect horses, controlling parasites throughout the seasons can set horses up for a healthy year.

"All species and stages of parasites that a horse may face cannot be treated during one single time of year," says Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS, manager, Equine Veterinary Professional Services, Merial. "Even through the winter, we can still see active parasite infections."

Although bot flies are generally seen during the summer, horses are often assumed to be infected with the gastric stage of bots, the most damaging stage, during the winter months. Large numbers of bot larvae can interfere with digestion and even cause death in the event of a stomach rupture.

In addition to bots, roundworms, or ascarids, also may be a concern heading into spring. Foals can shed ascarid eggs in the winter, potentially exposing other horses in the barn. In severe roundworm infections, foals can appear to be in poor body condition, lack energy and can occasionally colic.

Even under the best management practices, horses are likely to be infected with parasites. Management tips to control parasite populations include preventing fecal contamination in feed and water troughs. However, a regular deworming program can help ensure the parasite life cycle is interrupted.

"A broad-spectrum dewormer will help control the many species and stages of parasites year-round," Dr. Cheramie says. "It's also important to consult your veterinarian for a deworming program that meets your specific needs."

Choosing a dewormer like ZIMECTERIN® Gold (ivermectin/praziquantel) will help control 47 species and stages of parasites, including the oral and gastric stages of bots. Plus, it's approved for use in foals as young as 2 months old.

"With parasites, there is no time to let your guard down," Dr. Cheramie says. "Regular, ongoing parasite control can help keep horses healthy year-round."


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