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10 Pointers on Parasites for the Fall season

Reference: Adapted from a similar article posted on

Fall is a good time to address parasites since once the eggs are swallowed they will prepare to hibernate in the intestinal walls or encyst to other organs for the winter. Below are a few points to keep in mind to keep your horse healthy and parasite free this fall:

  1. Parasites produce toxins including ammonia; ammonia stresses the liver and kidneys, interferes with brain function and can contribute to laminitis.
  2. Encysted parasites are those parasites in the larval state that have formed a protective membrane around themselves and have migrated from the hindgut (large colon and cecum) through the intestinal walls and into the liver, kidneys and/or heart/arteries. If left untreated they are capable of causing many health problems: weight loss, a dull coat, poor appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, liver stress, leaky gut and colic.
  3. Encysted parasites do not usually respond to herbal or homeopathic dewormers, however it is usually either the long-term/heavily infested horses that have a problem with encysts.
  4. Most horses with long-term and/or heavy loads of parasites are anemic due to the blood loss. Low iron levels have a significant effect on overall health including lowering the resistance to parasites, contributing to chronic infections and depressing the immune system. Cases of anemia should always be treated with Iron-Up, an organic form of iron.
  5. Chemical de-wormers, while often necessary, do not always need to be administered as a full dose (i.e. entire syringe) for every horse. Mildly infected horses need less than a full dose and some horses, including those with encysts, will require a small amount repeated two or three times one to two weeks apart. Heavily infested horses also usually require more than one dose.

  6. It is not necessary to “syringe” a horse with a chemical de-wormer – this is an invasive practice. Smaller doses can easily be hidden in feed and larger doses can be spread out throughout the day also hidden in feed.
  7. Do not routinely de-worm your horse with chemicals unless you have a fecal analysis done to determine if it is even necessary. It is not appropriate to use chemicals for prevention.

  8. No matter what de-worming program you are using – natural or chemical – make use of regular fecal analyses to show if your program is working or not.

  9. The best defense against parasites is a healthy hindgut with a balanced eco-system, adequate levels of important nutrients and a strong immunity.

  10. Horses with strong digestion and intestines are not attractive to parasites who must rely on weakening their host for optimum survival. In fact, it is estimated that only one-third of the herd actually carries the parasite loads.


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