To Deworm or Not to Deworm

Parasites, both internal and external, have been around as long as man and beast.  But are they all bad?

There is current evidence that some parasitic load is beneficial for developing the immune system, decreasing the incidence of allergies, and balancing the gut flora.  However, too many parasites can lead to colic, anemia (lack of blood), weight loss, and damage to various organs.  Age, overall health, risk to exposure, and geographical location all need to be considered when developing a deworming schedule.

Requesting your veterinarian to run fecals and fecal egg counts can help determine the frequency of deworming for your specific horse or herd.  Realize that all dewormers have a very low risk of potential side effects, including diarrhea which can be offset by administering pre & probiotics.

The “natural” dewormers are helpful for controlling parasite load, but they are not effective enough to be used alone.   Some “chemical” dewormers are necessary for a deworming program to be effective.  In order for any of them to work, the proper dose needs to be given.

There is a wide safety margin in the available paste dewormers.  Giving a little more than the label says is better than giving the exact amount for your horse’s weight and then watching the horse spit a glob of dewormer out on the floor.  In my case, it usually lands on my shirt.

Making sure its mouth is empty before administering the dewormer is very helpful in preventing the glob loss.  And yes, rotating dewormers is still recommended to cover different parasites and help prevent resistance to specific families of dewormers.  Also, giving a Panacur Power Pac (double the regular dose given daily for 5 days in a row) should be considered every 2-3 years, or more if needed, to remove encysted small strongyles that the other dewormers left behind.  So to all you parasites, go forth and don’t multiply!

By Dr. John Hanover

This tip was brought to you by KAM Animal Services, home of Cookies with a Clue, the cookie that’s really a supplement with all the ingredients your horse needs to stay happy and healthy.  Check them out at

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