close up of brown horse snout with grass in its mouth

Tapeworms. You probably remember being scared of them as a kid, but how much of a threat to your horse are they actually? The most common type of tapeworm is Anoplocephala perfoliata, but there are a couple other types that are less common as well. 

Once attached, they can cause some serious damage to your horse’s body, especially their digestive system. Luckily, there are treatments to keep your horse parasite-free and happy.

Where Can Tapeworms in Horses Be Found?

They are flat-bodied parasites that live in the topsoil of certain climates, looking for a horsey-host to take advantage of. They can technically be found in any common pasture containing topsoil, but tend to be most common east of the Mississippi River and in North-Central States. 

How Do Horses Get Infected With Tapeworms?

As a forage mite, tapeworms require a host to reach adulthood. The mite, who lives in the soil, climbs onto pasture vegetation during warm and humid weather. As the horse is grazing, it unknowingly ingests the mite. 

The mite then attaches itself to the horse’s intestinal wall with a sharp, sucker-like mouth. The tapeworm will live an estimated 6-18 months inside the horse. No immunity related to age has been found, so a horse at any stage of its life can be affected.

What Kind of Damage Do Tapeworms in Horses Cause?

Once attached, these unfriendly parasites can cause weight loss, anemia, colic, decreased intestinal motility, and general un-wellness in your horse. These conditions will only worsen the longer you leave it alone, so call your vet If you notice anything off about your horse’s appearance or behavior.

How Are Tapeworms in Horses Detected?

Knowing your horse has a tapeworm can be difficult, but your horse health care professional can test for eggs in stool, or test for antibodies in saliva or serum (which is more reliable). This way, they know they have been exposed at one point, and can make a treatment plan for your horse and your property. 

How Are Tapeworms in Horses Treated?

Only a certified horse health care professional can prescribe your horse the necessary treatment, likely including an antiparasitic to heal your horse. One main agent that helps fight tapeworms is Praziquantel. This antiparasitic drug is usually combined with another de-wormer, such as  Ivermectin, to create a compounded medication suitable for treatment in horses (but don’t use it to treat COVID-19). 

Horse dewormers are toxic to dogs and cats, so make sure to keep it out of their paws. Also, keep it away from your eyes and mouth (you should be washing your hands anyway!).

Where Can I Get Praziquantel To Treat Tapeworms in Horses?

As mentioned earlier, only a certified veterinarian can prescribe Praziquantel. As far as getting compounds you can trust, BRD Vet Rx has been specializing in horse health care and compounding medications for almost 100 years. Call us at 844-447-5422 for more information, or visit our product list to find what you’re searching for. 

Don’t let these nasty parasites worm their way into your fun – stay informed, safe, and healthy this season.