How to Treat External Horse Parasites

Three Methods:Identifying the General Signs of External ParasitesTreating Flying External ParasitesTreating Crawling External Parasites

External parasites can be an irritating and unhealthy problem for horses. Whether its flying or crawling, parasites can cause a lot of discomfort and may even make your horse very, very ill. If you have a horse, you should be aware of the parasites that may become a problem for it and how to treat for them, including types of home or veterinary treatments.

Method 1
Identifying the General Signs of External Parasites

  1. 1
    Look for the horse biting or rubbing itself excessively. A horse that has external parasites likely is irritated by them. In order to relieve any itching or pain, your horse will rub, bite, or scratch any areas that it can get to.[1]
    • Rubbing and biting areas of discomfort can lead to areas of hair loss, as well as open sores. If your horse has these issues, then there may be an underlying parasitic infection causing it.
  2. 2
    Pay attention to a loss of appetite and weight loss. Some parasites move from the outside of your horse into its inside, affecting your horses digestion and nutritional intake. For example, bots begin as eggs on the outside of a horse's body but develop inside the horse once the horse ingests them.[2]
    • Bots in the stomach will affect a horse's digestion, causing both diarrhea and loss of weight.
  3. 3
    Notice changes in behavior. Horses that have parasitic infections may have different personalities or behaviors than they usually do. These changes are caused by the discomfort or pain that is associated with the infection.[3]
    • If your normally calm horse becomes aggressive or scared all of a sudden it could be the sign it has a parasitic infection. However, it could be a sign of another illness, so have your horse checked out by a veterinarian if this occurs.
  4. 4
    Assess your horse for sensitive or infected areas. Your horse may have a newly sensitive area that it does not want you to get close to. This area may just be tender due to itching, so the horse is protecting it, or it may be opened and infected.[4]
    • Tender areas may have been rubbed raw by the horse or they may be areas that the horse can't access but the parasites are breeding in.

Method 2
Treating Flying External Parasites

  1. 1
    Eliminate breeding grounds. Flying parasites, such as flies, mosquitoes, and Gnats, breed in moist locations around your horse. Clean up stalls, making sure to eliminate areas with moist hay, bedding, grass, or manure.[5] Wash out stalls and surrounding areas regularly, so flying parasites have fewer chances of breeding.
    • To get rid of mosquito and gnat breeding grounds, eliminate any standing water in the areas around your horse's stall. This includes puddles and natural bodies of stagnant water, as well as water buildup in buckets, tires, etc.
  2. 2
    Apply repellents. Treating flying parasites usually includes deterring the them from landing on your horse. Even if they are in the area, if you can keep them off your horse, then the problem is eliminated. One way to do this is to apply an insect repellent that is approved for use on horses. Consult with your veterinarian to find a product that will help with your horse's particular problem.
    • Another way it to apply petroleum jelly to areas on your horse that flies like to bite. Flies do not like land on it, as it can eliminate their ability to fly.
  3. 3
    Apply insecticides. Using insecticides requires a lot of care and know how. Consult with your veterinarian about products that can be used to kill flying parasites, how to use them, and how to avoid poisoning your horse in the process.[6]
    • Follow the directions for whatever insecticide you decide to use. The directions should include how long you can use it, how to apply it, and how to dispose of any leftover product.
  4. 4
    Consider veterinary treatment. If your horse's infection is extensive, then it is a good idea to get a professional to look at the horse. This is especially important if the flying parasites have irritated the horse so much that it has open sores or areas of hair loss.

Method 3
Treating Crawling External Parasites

  1. 1
    Treat the infection with an insecticide.[7] Crawling parasites, such as mites and lice, should be killed by an insecticide. This insecticide usually needs to be applied several times, so that the adults and the eggs are all killed. Consult with your veterinarian about the best product to use for your horse's particular infection.
    • However, ticks, which are another common crawling parasite on horses, need to be removed by hand.
    • If your horse has mange, which is a serious mite infection that affects the skin, it will also need a pesticide treatment.[8][9]
  2. 2
    Keep the horse clean. Good grooming practices can go a long way to treating, as well as preventing, a mild external parasitic infection.[10] If you are trying to get rid of an infection, you should groom your horse every day, brushing it and picking its hooves, making sure that its coat and feet are clear of parasites, as well as mud and dirt.[11]
    • Grooming your horse every day allows you to inspect your horse's body for infections as well.
  3. 3
    Consider cutting areas of the mane that are highly infected. In the case of a serious infection, such as mange, it is a good idea to cut the mane to eliminate areas where the infection can fester. This only needs to be done if your horse's infection is serious and your veterinarian thinks it will help get the condition under control.[12]
  4. 4
    Clean the horse's tools, stall, and surrounding areas. It's important to disinfect all of your horse's surroundings, as well as all supplies you use on it, in order to eliminate any adult parasites and their eggs. Clean stables regularly, replacing bedding and washing it out completely.
    • Avoid using supplies you use on an infected horse on other horses. Many common crawling parasites are easily transferred from one horse to another on contaminated tools, such as brushes, blankets, and any other tool.

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Categories: Horse Care | Horse Health