Early Days

Warning. Worms post!

WARNING! Gross photo below! 

If you’re squeamish, leave now and wait for the next post.

Oh Hemie…

Previous worm posts:

Alas, my horse has tested positive again for worms. To keep myself organized, here’s a quick recap of our historical worm situation:

April 2012 – Adopted Bohemian, start worming schedule recommended by our vet of alternating Ivermectin and Pyrantel Pamoate every 4 months.

December 2012 – Administer Pyrantel, next day there are dead large white worms in stool (I know now to be round worms). I freak out, then consult with my vet, my trainer, the interwebs, every person I know, and Horseman’s Lab equine parasite firm. I buy a case of Safe-guard PowerDose (double-dose fenbendazole) but ultimately decide to wait and test fecals before giving further dewormer. I pre-order fecal testing kits from Horseman’s Lab. A few weeks later his fecals test clean.

February 2013 – Moved to new boarding facility.

April 2013 – Our quarterly fecal test arrives in the mail. Test comes back positive for both strongyles and round worms. Dr. Byrd of Horseman’s Lab calls me to discuss treatment. He mentions that it is unusual for adult horses to have round worms – it’s more common in foals and young horses. We treat Hemie with one application of double-dose fenbendazole (Safe-Guard PowerDose). We fecal test again in another 3 weeks and it comes back clean.

August 2013 – Quarterly fecal testing, comes back clean.

Which brings us to the present, December 2013. Our quarterly fecal testing came back positive for round worms at over 100 eggs/gm. This is now the 3rd time Hemie has had roundworms in the 1.5 years I’ve had him – again, very unusual in adult horses. After consulting with Dr. Byrd I administered Pyrantel Pamoate, and will follow up in 4 weeks with one application of double-dose fenbendazole, and then do another fecal test 3 weeks following that. I find worms in his stool for 2 nights following the deworming.

And this is only half of it! The worm was at least 10″ long!!

I spoke with Dr. Byrd about what the positive round worm result may indicate about Hemie’s immune system. Generally speaking adult horses are able to fight off worms early in their development stage. Given that Hemie’s immune system can’t do this, it is a concern. However, Dr. Byrd recommended that we follow the deworming protocol, retest his fecals, and “take it from there” rather than made any immediate changes. I got the impression he wasn’t a major proponent of supplements or extra medications.

Since my vet came out this past weekend, of course I brought up the situation with him for a second opinion. Turns out he knows of Dr. Byrd (who used to be based out of Orange County) and thinks his approach is best. He said I could look into immune support products, such as garlic, but he didn’t seem to be very into supplements or extra medications. While he concurred that round worms in adult horses is unusual, he said that adult horses don’t have the same life-threatening complications that foals get, as adult horses’ digestive systems are fully developed and the dead worms can pass through easier.

Ironically, the week that he tests positive for worms is the week that finally, FINALLY, his darn ribs are covered. He looks really good.

Great coat, no ribs showing!

At this point I’m doing lots of research on equine immune systems. Not surprisingly, there’s a number of immune support products available, lots of research backing them up, and lots of research debunking them. Ideas and product reviews very welcome!  I haven’t been able to find a lot on the topic of round worms in adult horses. If you know someone with an adult horse who has/had round-worms, please hook us up!

10 comments on “Warning. Worms post!

  1. I wonder if you could call a horse rescue – they almost certainly see cases of worms in the horses they pick up, and they might have experience in treating horses with recurring positive fecals.

    I would be freaking out, I'm sorry you're dealing with this. :(

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  2. Eeek I am no help sorry! But I am sure that you will figure it out! :) Hemmie is lucky to have you!

    That worm is CRAZY! And it kinds give me shivers that is was alive in him lol!

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  3. I'm sorry that I don't know much about worms.

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  4. Have you tried daily feed-through wormer as a preventative?

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  5. Hey…my borders horse had this too, although he was only 2. We wormed him aggressively and it was persistent. We used a double dose and that did the trick for a while, tried the vets wormer, did nothing. I found the best thing was to double dose, wait two weeks, and do it again. It's a lot to take for them, but you need to kill the entire egg cycle.

    How is the pasture maintenance there?

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  6. Great idea. Sad but true that rescues are more likely to have worms. Although whether non-profits spend the money to do fecal testing is another matter…

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  7. Dude it was so gross. Thank goodness he likely pooped the rest of them out early in the day while I was at work, and that his stall was cleaned before I got there in the evening!

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  8. Alas, I know more now than I had ever wanted to!

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  9. I have not, though I have discussed it with the vets and as of right now it is not being recommended. Have you had success with that treating repeat worm issues?

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  10. Yes, the one-two punch seems to be the recommended solution, although my vet is having me give 2 different types of wormer, and spaced out a bit longer. Based on my research the issue with young horses is that killing all those worms at once can create blockage in the intestine since they're not fully grown, but I'm glad your boarder's 2-year-old was good with double-dose!

    Hemie lives in a 12×24 half-covered pipe corral, and gets turned out 3x per week in larger pipe corrals, but there is no actual “pasture” to speak of. I do not think the turn-outs get cleaned out before each rotation of horses – more likely cleaned just once a day. So there's where he's coming into contact with other horse's poop.

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