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Equine Fecal Egg Count Kits

Horse Worm Information

The reality of a worm infestation may be properly understood if one considers that a horse's parasite will lay eggs in the intestinal tract that are then excreted via the stool. This manure ends up on your pasture, where the eggs hatch and larvae appear. These little parasites will find their way onto the grass - many of these small creatures may even inhabit one drop of dew - where they are picked up by a horse as it feeds. Once ingested, the larvae will enter the animal's intestinal tract where they will briefly hibernate before undergoing a change that will propel them into the next stage of life where the entire process will begin again.

The affected horse will present with diarrhea, fever and also colic. Horse owners may at first believe that the feed is to blame and they may change it, further aggravating the horse's affected intestinal tract.

Signs or Symptoms My Horse has Worms

First, we must discuss the difference between signs and symptoms because the 2 terms are often used interchangeably.

Signs: involves objective findings - things we can actually see for example, nasal discharge and weight loss.

Symptoms: involves subjective findings - is how one feels, based mostly on opinions.

There are four main types of internal parasites that pass through the horse's body during their life cycle. Some may cause extensive damage and in the section below, we have listed them with the signs that the horse may show. We have also included bots, which primarily occurs in the horse's coat and hair.

Equine Worm Infestation

Please click on thumbnails to read more about each worm class:

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Why Equine Fecal Egg Count Matters

"There's really no way to build a parasite control program without using fecal egg counts (FEC),” says Martin Nielsen, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVM, associate professor of parasitology at the University of Kentucky's Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, in Lexington. Nielsen is one of the foremost experts in the field of equine parasitology and chair of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Parasite Control Guidelines (aaep.org/parasite-control-guidelines) committee.

Horse owners that don't use egg counts can have a false sense of security; they might assume the anthelmintic (deworming) products they are using are working when, in reality, they have no way of knowing. “I feel like I spend all my time advocating for this, but these habits are slow to change,” he says.

“There's no big broad-spectrum, ­umbrella-type product anymore that we can just give and know it gets everything in the horse,” says Nielsen. “There's also not any product that we can just discard and kick out and never use anymore. Each of the products currently available has some resistance issues in some equine parasites, but each of them still has a use for some parasites infecting horses.”