Early Days

Worms! (Viewer Discretion Advised)

CAUTION – There is a photo in this post. Of a worm. That came out of my horse’s digestion tract. It’s down below – there’s still time to close out this webpage and flee.
I wormed my horse on Saturday with pyrantel pamoate, and on Sunday a friend from the barn texted, saying that the stall cleaner says that my horse had worms. Cue freak out session! Code Yellow!! I went out that afternoon and checked all his poop and found one lonesome dead worm, about 2.5 inches long. White. Ugly. Gross. 
The friend at the barn said I should buy the Panacur Powerpac: 5-days of double-strength fenbendazole. She called her vet tech friend who said that’s a good plan, but wait for about a week first since I just wormed him. I left a message for my vet’s office, and called my trainer. She agreed with the powerpac idea, and said to consider worming every month going forward. My vet’s secretary called back on Monday and said the powerpac is a fine idea. When I asked when/if I should do a fecal test, she said yes in a month or so, and they cost $45 each.
So, most of me was freaking out. But a small part of me was wondering if the wormer I just gave him did its job (which is why the worms are dead and being passed through his system). If so, why worm again so soon? And so much?
With the overwhelming consensus to do the powerpac, I went in early to the tack store today and bought the fancy double-dose dewormer package. They graciously opened early for me and even gave me a discount. 
But since my vet had priced out the fecal test at $45, I decided to buy fecal tests through HorsemensLab.com – where I got 3 tests for $45. When you sign up there’s a place for you to ask questions, so I explained my situation to see if they would also recommend the powerpac.
A real live vet called me this evening as I was driving to the barn from work. He was from the lab, and called to discuss my situation. He said that passing dead worms in the first 12 to 18 hours after administering wormer is a sign that the wormer worked, and his professional opinion was not to give the powerpac right now, but rather do the fecal test in 2 to 3 weeks to see if there’s any lingering issues. If so, then we’d discuss the best wormer to use.
This vet is an expert in equine parasitology whereas that is not my regular vet’s specialty. In fact, I’d heard this vet on the Horse Radio Network some months back – he’s the founder of the lab. I clearly recall the interview, as it was very interesting. Their philosophy is that instead of horses getting wormed every 2 to 3 months on a rotation, that horses get fecal tested every 2 to 3 months and wormed only if they show worms in their system. The reason to do this is mainly to prevent intolerance buildup in the parasites, which is steadily growing in our country. 
This had sounded like a good idea to me, but since my vet had said we should only worm every 4 to 6 months (I was doing 4) with a rotation of only ivermectin and pyrantel (the 2 cheapest wormers), I had decided to do that instead of paying for fecals so often. With so few dewormings I didn’t think I’d be seriously contributing to the intolerance buildup.
But back to our situation. The vet from Horseman’s Lab said that worms can stay in their encrusted cyst stage for up to TWO YEARS meaning that he could have gotten them quite some time back, not necessarily at our boarding facility. It also means that I’ve decided to do that regular fecal testing – the worms may have developed from larvae since Hemie was getting so much healthier and fatter! For now the powerpac is at my house.
All thoughts, opinions, and experiences with worms are very welcome! I’ve seen worms before in adopted foals from Mexico, but its just different when its your horse.

4 comments on “Worms! (Viewer Discretion Advised)

  1. Ick. But good that you're taking care of it! I think the vet you got through the lab is a good one — it's good advice, for sure.

    And yknow, it occurs to me … only horse people will do things like share pictures of their horse's wormy poop! *laugh* Or LOOK at said pictures! We are a special bunch for sure.


  2. Normally worms are only visible if they are REALLY bad….otherwise they are microscopic. Do the 5 day Panacur – why not? It will kill the rest if there is something and won't hurt if there isn't. All the horses at that facility should be wormed now. Not worth the risk. The advice could be legit but really, I wouldn't trust a vet who gives advice over the internet..not because they aren't right (they could be a good vet), but you really have no way of knowing who you are really talking to.


  3. Very similar to what we do. Because my horses are in such an arid climate with stalls cleaned daily, their risk of infection is low. So … here is what we do. Twice a year only (since they are ALWAYS negative), spring and fall, we do a fecal count ($25 a pop at my vet hospital). Even though they always have 0 epg, we administer an ivermectin product immediately after since encysted worms don't show up on the fecal count. The ivermectin should help with any encysted worms. If we were to ever get a positive count, we would discuss which wormer to administer. My vets do a lot of research on the best deworming practices and this is their current recommendation. The number one reason for such low frequency deworming is that the worm population is building resistance to almost all available dewormers. Big problem!


  4. Just found your blog and wanted to add my $0.02 on worming. I used to do the fecal tests and powerpac 2x/year to get anything encysted. Then I discovered that powerpac doesn't get the tapeworms, and my older gelding showed signs of having tapeworms. Now, I do the powerpac 1x/year and use one of the “Gold” wormers to take care of the tapeworms 1x/year. Every time I have done a fecal test it comes back negative… but as someone else mentioned, those tests really don't tell you much because they don't show encysted worms.

    Also, I never use Ivermectin. Most worms in my area (central Texas) are immune to it. In addition, we have silverleaf nightshade in our pastures, despite 3 years of trying to eradicate it (we are winning, but slowly). The horses don't normally eat it, but will sample it, and while it is not toxic to horses by itself, it can be lethal when eaten by a horse that has been wormed with Ivermectin. It's just not worth the risk.

    Good luck!


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