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Daily Deworming - Is It Right For Your Horse?

Over the past decade, science has simplified horse parasite control with the advent of do-it-yourself paste dewormers. Parasite-eliminating medications are available over-the-counter without a veterinarian's prescription, including the drugs ivermectin, benzimadozole and pyrantel.

Five years ago, Pfizer introduced a new dewormer called Strongid C. Containing pyranted tartrate, this dewormer is designed to be fed daily. However, despite its effectiveness, some horse owners have concerns about Strongid C.

Strongid C works by continuously killing parasite larvae in the horse's gut before they can damage internal organs. This also stops the larvae from ever developing into adult worms capable of reproducing. Pfizer says that this daily deworming program can help to eliminate confusing over timing and dosage common with intermittent parasite drugs.

However, as with any medication, questions have arisen about the effectiveness and safety of Strongid C, as well as the possibility of parasites developing resistance to the medication. Several studies have shown that Strongid C does work well, meeting the claims of its manufacturer for reliability and safety, but many veterinarians are still cautious about the medication.

Pfizer states that the daily dosing not only prevents adult worms from developing within the horse and causing damage to internal organs, it greatly reduces the amount of worm eggs which are shed in the horse's feces. This greatly reduces the risk of other horses in the same pasture being exposed to worms.

Strongid C treats worms as a condition to be continuously prevented, rather than allowing an infestation to develop between occasional treatments. While Strongid C is the first preventative deworming medication developed for horses, it offers no protection against bots and onchocerca. Pfizer recommends administering invermectin no less than twice a year to control these parasites, in addition to the Strongid C. They recommend the invermectin treatments in late fall or early winter, and once again in spring.

But is it worth the cost of Strongid C when invermectin is still needed?

According to Pfizer, it is. The continual protection offered by Strongid C compares favorably against the paste dewormers which only occasionally purge the horse's system. They maintain that horses are at high risk of parasitism due to the shared facilities and pastures of most horse stables and ranches, and the detrimental effects of parasites are greatly reduced when parasite control is administered daily.

While paste dewormers which purge the horse's system are effective in ridding the horse of worms at the time of treatment, they do not address the overall effects of parasites. Horses which are treated with conventional anthelmintics are immediately vulnerable to reinfestation as soon as the medication clears the system, within a few hours or, at the most, a couple of days.

Can this daily deworming treatment protect your horse if it is pastured with horses who are untreated, or only dewormed periodically?

One study indicates that it can. Mares treated with Strongid C showed reduced numbers of eggs when contrasted with mares treated with a twice-monthly deworming paste containing ivermectin, pyrantel pamoate and oxibendazole. Both groups were tested at six weeks.
Strongid C is not an inexpensive treatment, running approximately fifteen dollars per month per 1,000 pound horse. However, the reduction in the parasite burden and its resultant gut inflammation can increase the horse's digestive efficiency. This can reduce feed costs by up to ten to fifteen percent per horse.

Many owners and veterinarians have found Strongid C to be a useful medication, especially for horses with a history of recurrent parasite infestations. No dewormer is one hundred percent effective, and Strongid C is no different in that regard. It's not inexpensive, but its preventative value and the reduced feed costs can make the expense worthwhile.
For owners of problem horses, Strongid C might be worth considering. However, it's important to remember that no single product can completely cure every situation, and you should always consult your veterinarian and read all the label directions carefully before changing medications.

Read the next horse health tips article on Deworming Schedules.
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