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 their 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
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