Last Updated on July 20, 2022
If you suspect that your horse has some unwanted creepy crawlies, you’ll need to know the best horse lice treatment products. But first of all, you will need to be 100% sure that lice are the problem. So, let’s take a look at lice and how they affect horses and find out all about the different horse lice treatment products!
What Are Lice? Horse Lice Treatment Products
Lice are tiny flightless insects that live on the skin of mammals and birds. They commonly hide under the hair or feathers, thriving in the environment provided by the skin. There are many different types of lice, all of which favor a particular animal.
Lice can be split into two basic groups. The first of these is called biting lice, of the order Mallophaga. The second group is called Anoplura and consists of blood-sucking lice.
Some lice move from host to host, while others live their entire life cycle on one host animal. They reproduce by laying eggs and can move around the body. This causes intense itching and discomfort to the host animal.
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What Types Of Lice Do Horses Get?
Horse can be infested by two types of lice. The first of these is a blood-sucking louse called Haematopinus asini. This louse is most commonly found in longer, dense hair, such as the roots of the mane and forelock, the base of the tail, and the feathers on the legs.
The second type of lice found on horses is a biting louse called Damalinia equi. This is normally found in finer-haired areas, such as on the sides of the neck and flanks of the horse.
Both types of lice in horses reproduce by laying eggs which they glue to the base of the hairs near the skin. These eggs are known as nits, and cannot be removed by shampooing. The nits hatch into nymphs, which go through three stages of molting over 3-4 weeks to become an adult louse.
How Can You Tell If A Horse Has Lice?
Most lice in horses are large enough to be visible to the human eye, although they can be hard to spot. The nits are oval, pale-colored translucent eggs, located near the skin. Nymphs are similar to adult lice, but smaller which makes them harder to spot.
Adult lice are easier to see, as they are larger than the eggs or nymphs, and tend to be more mobile. Gently part the hairs of the base of the mane, and you may see adult lice scurrying for cover.
The classic sign that a horse has lice is intense itching. Nits do not cause the horse to itch, but both the nymphs and adult lice are very itchy. This will lead the horse to persistently rub the affected areas on solid objects such as fence posts, gates, and stable doors.
This rubbing will normally take place on lice-prone areas such as the mane, head, and base of the tail. It is common for a horse to rub the skin until it is red and inflamed in an attempt to ease the itching.
In severely debilitated horses, lice can cause the horse to feel run-down and lethargic. Colic symptoms can occur, and blood-sucking lice can also cause anaemia.
Your veterinarian will diagnose lice based on the clinical symptoms, combined with an examination of a sample of hair on a microscope.
What Are The Best Horse Lice Treatment Products?
If you suspect your horse has lice, it is important to seek the advice of a veterinarian or licenced pharmacist with experience in animal parasite control. The most effective treatments for lice in horses are normally topical, which means they are applied directly to the skin. This can include powders, medicated shampoos, wipes, sprays, and rinses.
The basis for most of these treatments is a parasiticide called permethrin or pyrethrin. This is highly toxic, and care should be taken to avoid inhaling the dust or contaminating waterways. Avoid applying the treatment directly to irritated skin as it can sting.
As well as treating your horse, it is also essential to boil or wash any potentially contaminated objects such as blankets and grooming equipment. Lice cannot be transmitted via humans, but horse to horse contact should be kept to a minimum.
Summary – Horse Lice Treatment Products
So, as we have learned, the best horse lice treatment products are normally topical, which means they are applied directly to the skin. This can include powders, medicated shampoos, wipes, sprays, and rinses. Most of these treatments are based on a parasiticide called permethrin or pyrethrin, which is normally only available from a licensed pharmacy.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the best horse lice treatment products! Do you frequently suffer from outbreaks of lice on the horses in your barn? Or perhaps you’ve got another parasite problem that you’re struggling to resolve? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Does Lice Powder Work On Horses?
Some lice powders will work on horses, but only those that contain an effective agent such as permethrin. It is important to seek help from a licenced pharmacologist or veterinarian before applying lice powder to a horse.
What Is The Best Treatment For Lice On Horses?
Lice on horses should be treated with an effective anti-lice medication such as permethrin. This is normally applied topically, using a powder, spray, shampoo, or wipe.
Does Ivermectin Kill Lice On Horses?
An ivermectin wormer can also be effective on external parasites, such as lice on horses. Some veterinarians also use an off-licence ivermectin spot-on treatment to kill lice on horse's legs. Never use products such as ivermectin without consulting with your veterinarian first.
How Do You Get Rid Of Horse Lice Naturally?
Getting rid of lice naturally is difficult, as there are few natural product that will kill lice. Most horses have some natural immunity to lice, which is why debilitated horses are more likely to become infected. To avoid having to use lice treatments unnecessarily, maintain good levels of hygiene to prevent the transmission of lice from horse to horse.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE