Worm control is important when it comes to helping all our pets stay happy and healthy, and horses are no different. Unfortunately, due to the overuse of anthelmintics, many parasites are becoming resistant to the drugs approved for horses and other livestock. This is similar to antibiotic resistance and is leaving vets unable to treat some animals with heavy worm burdens resulting in euthanasia. This is why it is such an important issue and why it is important you use anthelmintics responsibly. Read on to find out more.
Minimising the burden
There are ways that you can minimise the possibility of anthelmintic resistance which fall broadly into two categories – management to reduce your horse’s worm burden and using anthelmintics in a targeted way.
Recommended management practices:
- Field management – Make sure that you pick up droppings twice a week at the least, ideally, you should be aiming to pick up droppings every day for the best results
- New horses – Test new horses as they arrive to establish their worm burden and keep them separate until you know the results or, if they need worming, keep them separate until they have been treated and their count is low enough to introduce them to the herd environment.
- Use a good quality horse feed – feeding a balanced diet based on plenty of fibre will help to keep the digestive system healthy which should help to keep a worm burden down. Unhealthy horses are more likely to succumb to parasites.
- Records – keep all horse records up to date and record details of what anthelmintics are used. This will be really helpful for your vet and those advising on what anthelmintics to use
Targeted use of anthelmintics
Treat each horse as an individual – a faecal egg count provides an indication as to whether a horse actually needs worming. If the worm burden is low then it is likely your vet will recommend not using an anthelmintic.