Equine Wellness Care

For a healthy horse, we recommend a visit with our veterinarians

twice a year.

Regular, bi-annual wellness exams are the key to providing a long and healthy life for your horse. Early identification of health issues enables us to begin early treatment, often before they develop into more serious conditions that become major health problems.

At Veterinary Medical Center, equine wellness and preventative medicine includes both wellness and sick visits. We offer vaccination and deworming programs tailored to your horses and situation, management advice to help you properly care for your horses, and expert medical care if your horse needs additional care for any disease or medical condition that arises. Our 2 fully equipped mobile units perform farm calls, or you may bring your horse to our hospital in Easton.

For established clients of Veterinary Medical Center:

Parasite prevention

Parasite protection is important. There are more than 150 types of internal parasites known to infect horses. Every horse can be infected by one or more of these parasites, and should be on an individualized parasite prevention and control program.

Targeted Deworming

Horses evolved with intestinal parasites. Small numbers of worms do not cause a significant health problem in horses, and actually stimulate the horse’s immune system to encourage resistance to a heavier worm burden. Therefore small numbers of worms may actually enable the horses to resist heavier and potentially more serious parasite infestation. The real object of a parasite control program should be to lower (but not eliminate) the adult worm burden. More importantly, it should strive to prevent contamination of the horses’ environment with eggs. At this time, small strongyles are the most prevalent parasite of older horses. They are also becoming increasingly resistant to all the chemicals we currently use. Tapeworms, bots, large strongyles, and pinworms are also important parasites in older (>18month) horses. In young horses, roundworms are very important. These other parasites are also showing resistance to all classes of dewormers that we currently use. There are no new chemicals being developed for future use. Research has shown that about 20 -30 % of the horses in a herd harbor most of the parasites and up to 50% of the herd control parasites by natural means. Deworming those individuals with low worm burdens will not benefit them; since they produce very few eggs, they also do not contaminate the pasture. Deworming should concentrate on those horses which have consistently high worm burdens. In our area, winter conditions decrease the maturation of parasites in the pasture, and very hot, dry condition in summer will also slow transmission. We need to concentrate our efforts on treating the correct individuals at the correct time.

April: Start of worm control cycle in MD Fecal Egg Count? Yes – on all horses, before deworming – to find each horses level of small strongyles. Then each horse can be classified as low (<50epg), moderate (50-200epg) or high (>200epg) egg shedders. Deworm Which Horses? All Which drugs? Ivermectin (for most horses) or Moxidectin (only on horses with high (or history of chronically high) fecal egg counts. A product containing Praziquantel could also be used at this time for tapeworms (If it was not used the previous fall). Why? Cold weather conditions are over; eggs and larvae can now survive on pasture. 

June (for horses treated with Ivermectin in April) Deworm Which Horses? Only those with a fecal egg count >200epg in April Fecal Egg Count? Yes – but only on horses being treated – 10-14 days after deworming to check for resistance. Which drugs? Oxibendazole and Pyrantel in combination (dose both dewormers as per label directions) Why? ERP of Ivermectin is ~8wks, therefore horses treated with this in April will have eggs reappearing. Using both Oxibendazole and Pyrantel together is more effective than using either one separately. 

July Fecal Egg Count? Yes – on all horses, before deworming Deworm Which Horses? All Which drugs? Ivermectin or Moxidectin (try to “save” Moxidectrin for high shedders) Why? ERP of Oxibendazole/Pyrantel used in June is 4 wks, ERP of Moxidectin (if used in April) is ~12 weeks. Timing for both ERP’s is now. 

September (Only for horses treated with Ivermectin in July) Fecal Egg Count? Only on horses with >200epg result on July FEC, before deworming Deworm Which Horses? Only horses with FEC > 200epg now. Which drugs? Oxibendazole and Pyrantel Why? Using both together improves effectiveness 

October Fecal Egg Count? On all horses not dewormed in September, test before deworming Deworm Which Horses? Only horses with FEC > 200epg now. Which drugs? Oxibendazole and Pyrantel Why? ERP of Moxidectin (if used in July) is ~12 weeks. Using both Oxibendazole and Pyrantel together improves effectiveness 

Late November (after 1st frost if possible) Fecal Egg Count? On all horses before deworming Deworm Which Horses? All Which drugs? Ivermectin with Praziquantel or Moxidectrin with Praziquantel Why? Tapeworms, Bots 

Legend FEC = Fecal Egg Count EPG = eggs per gram ERP = egg reappearance period (differs for each type of dewormer, in adult horses: 4 wks for Bendazole and Pyrantel (IF no resistance), 8 wks Ivermectin, 12-16 wks Moxidectin) 

Deworming protocols for horses in their first 4 years of life vary from farm to farm. Please call us so that we may help you customize a deworming program for your young horses.

1. Try to save the big gun (moxidectin) by not deworming with it too frequently – save it for horses that are high shedders.

2. Reduce fecal contamination of pastures by picking up manure. Harrow or spread manure only in summer, when it is hot and dry, in order not to spread high numbers of eggs and larvae around. Rotate pastures if possible. Try to prevent over stocking.

3. Horses with low fecal egg counts (<50 eggs per gram) may not need to be dewormed more than twice a year, while high shedders (> 200 eggs per gram), may need to be treated 6 times.

4. Do fecal egg counts and deworm all new arrivals before they contaminate pastures.

5. Use correct dosages – use a weight tape so that you are not under dosing.

6. Check to see if a particular dewormer is effective on your farm. Do egg counts on 10% of your horses, treat with a dewormer and then recheck the same horses in 14 days. If the reduction in numbers is less than 80%, the parasites your horses have are resistant to that dewormer, and you should not use that dewormer singly on that farm again. Combinations may still be effective.

Equine Vaccinations

Vaccines are important in preventing serious diseases in horses. We design personalized vaccine protocols, maximizing protection against the diseases the horse is likely to be exposed to. Our current vaccine recommendations are based on up-to-date research and the incidence of disease in our area.

Get the best care for your best friend.

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