Consider Tapeworms in Equine Deworming Programs

Consider Tapeworms in Equine Deworming Programs

Tapeworm lifecycle. For a full-sized version click here.

With the link between tapeworms, specifically Anoplocephala perfoliata, and spasmodic, impaction, and intussusception-related colic, it's critical horse owners use products in their deworming programs that control tapeworms. Does the product you're using control for tapeworms?

"To effectively manage tapeworms, horse owners need to incorporate a product such as one with praziquantel, which specifically controls that parasite," says Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS, equine specialist for Merial's Large Animal Services. "Although there are generic ivermectin dewormers, there are no generics that contain praziquantel to control tapeworms, which is critical because of the link between tapeworms and colic."

The threat of anything that could be related to colic is something horse owners dread--and with good reason. Colic has been identified as one of the leading causes of death in horses. In one study, 80% of ileal impaction colic cases examined were associated with tapeworms. Other findings from that study showed 22% of spasmodic colic cases had concurrent tapeworm infections.

Besides their association with colic, tapeworms can also lead to recurring diarrhea, progressive weight loss, and anemia. Understanding the tapeworm lifecycle, illustrated below, can help horse owners determine the best time to treat.

"General recommendations are to treat for tapeworms in the spring and the fall, but horse owners should consult their veterinarians for more specific treatment protocols, especially if the horse is on a selective deworming program," says Cheramie.

Because tapeworms pose a threat to horses' overall health and there is no reliable fecal diagnostic test for tapeworm infections like there are for other parasites, horse owners need to be vigilant about treating for them. And they should be sure to treat with a product that has been proven to be effective against tapeworms.

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