By Maddy Butcher
Research shows that you do more harm than good when you order that variety pack and stuff worming paste down your horse’s throat indiscriminately.
Most horses don’t need wormer and by giving it to them anyway, you lower their resistance and compromise the good bacteria.
On average, just one horse in a herd of four hosts the majority of parasites. That horse should be identified and treated accordingly.
Today’s body of evidence points to the importance of doing annual or spring/fall fecal egg counts to pinpoint the specific horse, the specific parasites, and direct treatment. It’s been called “Targeted Deworming.”
“The object of targeted worming is to cut way back on the amount of worm medicine being used and so lessen the ability of the parasites to develop immunity to it. It’s similar to human medicine where your doctor doesn’t want to give you antibiotics for every little infection,” writes Dr. Dave Jefferson of Maine Equine Associates.
Think about it: We wouldn’t give our kids amoxicillin every January just cuz. It would be absurd and harmful. That kind of pointless medication would eventually render amoxicillin useless because over time, the bacteria would morph into new amoxicillin-resistent bacteria.
Watch this excellent educational slideshow, called Parasites 101. It’s by Merial, the maker of Zimecterin.
Jefferson and many vets interviewed recommend fecal egg counts performed once or twice a year. Many practices do them in house. Some even do them during a farm visit.
Even with the cost per sample (between $16-28), clients typically save money by not using wormers so often. And the horses are healthier for it.
Of course, there’s the added bonus of knowing exactly which horse has parasites and which parasites need targeting.
- More information.
- Less blind treatment.
Some vets recommend once-a-year worming for tape worms and/or bot fly eggs. (One typically sees bot fly eggs on horses’ legs). The most effective wormers in these cases are Zimecterin Gold and Equimax as they contain a combination of the drugs ivermectin and praziquantel.