How to Identify Horse Parasites

Horses can transmit parasites while grazing in areas where there is standing manure.
Horses can transmit parasites while grazing in areas where there is standing manure. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Horses can fall victim to different types of parasites. Having some level of intestinal parasites is normal for a domesticated horse, but when parasite numbers get out of control, health problems can develop. There are about 150 types of parasites that can affect your horse. To treat parasite infestation, you need to identify the type of parasites your horse has and select a de-wormer product that is designed to eliminate those organisms.

Things You'll Need

  • Horse manure
  • Resealable plastic baggie

Examine your horse's manure closely. If you can visibly see any type of worms (such as roundworms or tapeworms) or other parasite, your horse probably has a severe parasite infestation. In most cases, humans cannot see or identify intestinal parasites without the benefit of laboratory equipment.

Collect several balls of fecal matter from the horses you want to check for parasites. Store the manure in sealed plastic baggies. Keep each horse's manure separate to identify specific worm problems that an individual horse may have, as some horses are more susceptible to worms and parasites than others.

Take the manure to your veterinarian and request that he perform fecal exams on the samples. Some vets do not have the equipment to perform the examination on hand and will send the samples to a laboratory for a full analysis. The analysis will come back with a list of the different types of parasites, larvae and eggs that were found in the different samples.

Use the information you gained through the fecal examination to target your de-worming program. Wait two weeks after de-worming and then gather new fecal samples from the same horses; have a second fecal examination done to determine the efficiency of your de-worming effort.

Tips & Warnings

  • A fecal exam allows your veterinarian to determine how many parasite eggs your horse has per gram of fecal matter and what type of parasites your horse is carrying. This is crucial for developing a de-worming program that targets and eliminates the specific type of worms your horse is carrying.

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