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WHAT’S UP DOC From the desks of Dr’s Armstrong & Frost.


Quality Equipment for Horsemen CUSTOM LEATHER WORK & REPAIRS

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24339 Hwy 48, P.O. Box 139,

Baldwin, ON L0E 1A0

Tel: (905) 722-8847 Fax: (905) 722-4155


Dear Doctor’s can you please explain to me the deal about worming your horse. Every tack store & feed store is filled with worming medication and there are a million different opinions as to what I should do. Having a new horse who came fully wormed I am looking for the best advice as to what I should be looking for in a product and does this mean that I should be finding a vet and having them look after my horse’s worms??

Many thanks

Signed Nick

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email: Phone: (519) 268-2050

ANSWER Dear Nick;

Internal Parasites

Internal parasites or worms in horses not only compete for the nutrients that the horse consumes but also cause damage to various organs in the horse’s body. There are several types of worms that affect the horse and each of these has a different life cycle where in it travels through different organs in the horse’s body.

At the same time there are several different types of drugs that are used to kill the worms in the horse’s body. The secret then is to match up the type of worms that your horse has with the type of drug that you should use to kill the worms. Adult worms pass their eggs or segments in the faeces (manure) of the horse and therefore a simple examination of the manure (faecal floatation) will tell us what type of worms are present and then what type of wormer we should be using. This is why it is important to test the horse periodically to determine the type of worms it might have rather than just buy wormer regularly and administering it. You could be spending money on drugs that you think are helping the horse but really the drug is not effec- tive for the worms the horse has and therefore the horse contin- ues to suffer the infection.

Worms and the environment:

Pasture and environmental management are your least expensive and most effective means of controlling your horse’s exposure to worm infestations. Horses acquire a worm infection by eating the hatched worm larvae on grass or hay. The worm eggs hatch best in warm humid weather and the larvae crawl up on to blades of grass to be picked up by the horse. With this piece of information we then know that worm infestations are most likely when the weather is hot and humid and therefore check our horses more frequently during the spring and summer. At the same time bot flies lay their eggs on the ends of the hair shafts on the horse’s legs and when the horse lick this area the eggs hatch and attach themselves to the horses tongue to be ingested. Once again this occurs during the summer months. This makes internal parasite control on pastures a very important aspect of what you do to reduce your horse’s exposure to worm infections. Picking up the manure piles and therefore removing the eggs before they hatch does help reduce the expo- sure. With large pastures we know that harrowing the pasture will break up the manure piles and allow the sun to dry the eggs which then kills them. Therefore, if you cannot pick up the manure piles regularly then you should harrow the pastures regu- larly to kill the eggs before they hatch.

Worms and immunity:

RICHVALE SADDLERY 7195 Hwy 9, Schomberg, ON L0G 1T0 905-939-1076

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We know that over time most horses do develop an immune response to worm infestations. This is why some horses never have worm problems and therefore very seldom need worming. This is also why very young and young horses suffer more from worm infestations and managing them through this period is very important as they have not yet developed an immune response to worms but are in the process of doing so. With this concept in mind it prudent to allow young horses to maintain a minimal ineffective level of worms so they are able to develop this immune response. Keeping a young horse absolutely free of worms is not helpful to the horse. Instead we try to maintain a minimal level of worms so the immune response is fully devel- oped and the horse as an adult has a natural pro- tective mechanism. Your veterinarian will help you with this pro- cess.

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