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Deworming Questions on Worms: What's in your horse dewormer?

I was going to give my horses their 8-week rotation of dewormer timed just before the first big frost of the year.   As I got ready for the by-monthly disagreement with Skippy who hates any flavor or brand of deworming paste I give her, I looked at the large, colorful syringe and hoped this new product was going to make my afternoon go a little better.    

I usually rotate between a Safe-Guard® and an ivermectin family product.  This time I thought I would try something different.  As I finished giving the dewomer to Skippy, I noticed the “plus” after the name.    I was not sure what “Plus” meant on the brand name I had heard and read about many times.   The syringe was the same size.  Dose was the same, same smell, similar flavor (Skippy still did not like it and made sure I was wearing some immediately after she was dosed).

After the seven horses and three mini-donkeys were done, I found my glasses in the feed room and tried to determine what “plus” meant.  In this case, it was an added drug (praziquantel) for tape worms.  I thought dewomers got rid of worms, all the worms….so I did some investigating.

Horses usually get large and small strongyles, ascards, pinworms and others that the market’s standard products take care of.  But for some reason, the standard products do not affect tapeworms.  I discovered that tape worms attach themselves to the intestine only by their head and grow inside the digestive tract.  By doing this they do not eat blood like most worms.  They, instead,  eat the food that the horse is trying to digest.    Most common dewormers are absorbed into the blood, the worms eat the blood which contains the dewormer, and the worms die and leave the body.  Since tape worms do not eat the blood, they do not get any of the dewormer.  Thus, the “plus” is a compound that stays in the digestive tract where the tape worm will eat it and die too.

I am not a veterinarian and highly suggest that you work with your equine health professional to design a health program for your farm including a deworming program.  This would include taking fecal samples to the vet on a regular basis to see what kinds of worms your horses may have.  Tape worms are not found that often in horses but it is always a good idea to check.   

If your horse only needs the standard type dewormer and you have a “Skippy” in your herd, Hubbard does have a Safe-Guard® dewormer that can be fed instead of putting it behind the tongue (which is a nice change since Skippy can’t spread it all over me).  The product is Safe-Guard® 0.5% Crumbles (#8K18) with the feeding rate of 1 lb per 1000 lbs body weight.

You can visit our Hubbard Life Equine Tips & Tools section for more information on deworming and more horse health information.

Posted on 1/9/2013 by Dr. Ed Bonnette  |  Category: Equine
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