diagnose. While any horse may be affected, it is the young horse that is most
often affected. You may see weight loss, swollen bellies, bouts of diarrhea, and
also colic. While in the past if was thought that only horses who were not on a
regular deworming schedule would
be affected, it has since been found that symptoms of infection may occur even
after rigorous deworming protocols have been observed.
The causes for such a winter infection have not been completely nailed down, but
theories abound. One theory holds that if a severe winter follows on the heels
of an unseasonably warm fall, the odds are good that the development of cysts
within the horse’s intestinal wall may be arrested. As the larvae may develop
the cysts within the horse when the fall is wet and warm, it is not surprising
that the number of parasites suddenly spikes, and the signs of infestations are
the result. Research has shown that exposure to shed larvae in the southern
portions of the United States may occur during a mild winter while in the
northern areas it is the spring and fall that bring the dangers of infection.
Some veterinarians believe that the susceptibility of horses for the parasitic
infection rises also because seasonally schedule dewormers will have killed off
the other lifecycle stages of the bloodworm, thus signaling the left over cystic
worms to emerge. After all, the cysts prevent this particular stage from being
affected by any dewormer. To this end, it is now recommended that in addition to
the regularly scheduled dewormer, a larva killing treatment also needs to be
administered to your horse. Protection against the larvae is achieved by giving
the chemical to your horse daily over the span of a week, or as often as
recommended by your veterinarian.
In addition to this regimen, you should also avoid spreading manure over the
pasture. Since the larvae are highly susceptible to damage brought on by heat
and dryness, be sure to capitalize on the heat of the summer and break up any
manure. During the other times, you may just need to go ahead and pick it up to
avoid your horses being exposed to the larvae.
While bloodworms can wreak havoc with your horse, tapeworms are not a laughing
matter either. Once they were not considered to be much of a problem, but
considering that they are associated with colic and severe inflammation and
swelling, they are now actively targeted during dewormings.
It is interesting to note that tapeworms will most likely enter your horse while
it ingests vegetation that contains mites which in turn have ingested the
parasitic eggs. Generally speaking, horses living in areas that contain swamps
are more commonly found to be affected with tapeworms. Fortunately, there is a
drug available to successfully free a horse from this parasite, and a regular
dose should do the trick. Yet since there is a 30 percent change of there being
remainders, it is best to double the dose once or twice per year. Obviously, you
will want to discuss this with your veterinarian before proceeding.