Last Updated on June 27, 2022
As a horse owner or carer, it is vital that you learn about worms and bots in horses and how to control them. These parasites can cause some serious health problems in horses, and a good worm control program is essential to keep our horses healthy and free from disease. Let’s find out everything you need to know about worms and bots in horses!
What Are Worms And Bots In Horses?
Worms and bots in horses are internal parasites – this means that the are organisms that live for part of their life cycle inside a host animal. They can survive inside the body of the horse and gain nutrition by feeding on the host animal. Depending on the type of parasite, they can live inside internal organs, body cavities, and even migrate through body tissues.
Horses can be infested with many different species of parasites. Some of these cause very few problems, while others can be very detrimental to the horse. A large number of parasites will take a huge amount of nutrients away from the host animal, causing debilitating medical problems.
To know how to treat worms and bots in horses, first we need to understand the life cycle of each type. Worms and bots in horses can only be controlled by disrupting this life cycle. Giving a dewormer at the wrong time or without adopting a holistic worm control program will not be effective and can lead to resistance to wormers.
One of the simplest ways to prevent worms in horses is to clean up their droppings on a daily basis. Most worm larvae are shed through the manure, and collecting the fecal material before they have chance to contaminate the pasture is an essential part of disrupting the life cycle of worms.
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Most Common Types Of Worms And Bots In Horses
Stomach bots are the larvae of the botfly, Gasterophilus. These creatures are not worms, but they live for a large part of their life cycle inside the body of the horse.
Female botflies lay eggs on the hairs of the horse, in locations such as between the jaw bones, on the lips, or on the forelegs. When the larvae hatch, they burrow into the tongue and gums of the mouth to incubate, and are then swallowed and attach to the lining of the stomach. After nine months they pass out of the gastrointestinal system in the manure, and then develop into adult flies.
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Strongyles (Large Redworms)
Stronglyes are are type of intestinal worm that is highly dangerous to horses. These worms can eat through the lining of the intestines and travel along the gastrointestinal system via the blood vessels. This causes damage and significant bleeding, resulting in weight loss, diarrhea, and potentially death.
Ascarids pose a high risk to young horses, but as they become older most horses will develop a natural immunity against them. Roundworm larvae move through the intestinal wall to the liver. They then migrate to the lungs where they are coughed up and swallowed. Ascarids can cause respiratory problems, weight loss, and diarrhea.
Tapeworms are a large intestinal parasite of horses, growing up to 8cm long. They form balls of worms at key points in the intestines, causing blockages and digestive problems.
Pinworms in horses cause intense irritation and itching around the anus, where their eggs are laid. The horse will rub at the affected area to ease the itching, resulting in open sores and hair loss. When passing through the bowel, pinworms can also cause damage to the intestines.
Cyathastomes (Small Redworms)
Cyathastomes are one of the most common parasites of horses. Small redworm larvae hibernate in the intestinal wall through the winter months, emerging in large numbers in the spring. This causes significant damage to the intestines, leading to diarrhea, weight loss, and potential death of the horse.
Lungworms do not pose a large threat to horses, but they are prevalent in donkeys. They can commonly affect horses that share grazing with donkeys, leading to respiratory problems.
Threadworms pose a high risk to newborn foals, as they are passed on through the dam’s milk. They are very debilitating to foals, leaving them weak and causing diarrhea. Foals with threadworms often fail to thrive, and have a slow rate of growth.
So, as we have learned, worms and bots in horses come in many different shapes and sizes! A large number of parasites will take a huge amount of nutrients away from the host animal, causing debilitating medical problems. To know how to treat worms and bots in horses, first we need to understand the life cycle of each type, as worms and bots in horses can only be controlled by disrupting this life cycle.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on worms and bots in horses. Do you have a comprehensive worm control plan for your herd of horses? Or perhaps you’ve been struggling with resistance to wormers in your horse? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
What Are The Symptoms Of Bots In Horses?
Horses that have a bot infestation may show a range of symptoms. Most commonly you will see weight loss, reduced appetite, and changes in overall body and coat condition. In some cases you will see behavioural changes such as poor performance, cribbing, and chewing on wood.
What Wormer Kills Bots In Horses?
When choosing a dewormer to kill bots in horses, you need to take into account the life stage of the horse, the time of year, and whether any other gastrointestinal parasites also require treatment. It is a good idea to consult with a qualified person such as your veterinarian to decide which dewormer is best for your horse.
How Do You Get Rid Of Bot Worms In Horses?
Giving a dewormer at the correct time is vital for getting rid of bots in horses. A dose of bot treatment is normally given in the fall, after the first frost. A second dose is then given in the spring.
Which Dewormer Kills Bots?
The two main dewormers that are effective against bots are ivermectin and moxidectin. Giving dewormers to your horse is only effective in conjunction with a holistic worm control plan.
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 wenton 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