Signs of Tapeworms in Horses
Signs include diminished performance, pain and discomfort, increased flatulence, pawing, trying to lie down, malaise, lethargy, nipping at sides, refusal to eat, weight loss, nutritional deficiency, bloating, dull coat, and lack of shedding in warmer weather. Seldom will you see any of these signs caused by Tapeworms because normally these signs are only seen in severely infected horses. Unfortunately there is no good test for Tapeworms in horses in the U.S.A. at this time.
There is a saliva antibody test in England that we had available for a short time that was very accurate; however, it was taken off the market for logistical reasons and safety. There were some concern for the safety of the laboratory staff due to the possibility of them being exposed to rabies since horses can get rabies and the fact that the virus is spread through the saliva of animals. We occasionally find Tapeworm eggs in the fecal egg counts and if they are found they are reported.
The more times we do fecal egg counts on a horse or herd the more likely we are to find Tapeworm eggs if there is any horse in the herd infected with Tapeworms. When we find any horse in a pasture with Tapeworms we recommend deworming the horses with a deworming medication that contains Praziquantel twice a year. If no Tapeworm eggs are ever found then deworming for Tapeworms once a year is adequate.
What are Tapeworms?
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Tapeworms are generally not thought to cause much problem to horses. However, in the last few years there seems to have been an increase in the number of horses being infected with tapeworms. The normal deworming medications are generally not very effective at eliminating these worms.
Therefore, in areas where these worms are known to be present special deworming methods and medications must be used to control this worm. Fortunately this worm does not cause horses a great amount of difficulty.
However, in certain situations this worm may cause colic therefore efforts should be made to control them.
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