Deworming

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Take an inside look into the latest the scientific studies at the University of Saskatchewan's veterinary college, with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine's semi-annual newsletter: Horse Health Lines.

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Today it is critically important to understand the basics of parasite resistance and develop a deworming program that will work for your farm. That program will need to be reevaluated and modified as environmental conditions change from year to year, and farm management and the number of horses fluctuates.

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When winter finally releases its icy grip, horse owners are eager to begin another riding season. While Canadians take national pride in fully embracing our cold snow-filled months, it’s hard to deny that springtime is a welcome sight, and horse owners are especially excited. Winter horse care can mean different things depending on your geographic location. Fluctuating temperatures in Eastern Canada create challenges for indoor housing. The Prairies cope with their incredibly frigid minus 40-degree C days (how you just “dress for it” I don’t know!). While in Western British Columbia there is constant rain from November to March. Dealing with any of those conditions makes both horse and human welcome the arrival of spring sunshine and open barn doors!

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The Inside Story - For as long as horses have been grazing the hillsides and meadows, the pest of parasite infestation has plagued them. Perennial as the grass, intestinal parasites find every possible opportunity to enter their horse host, and live out their life cycle.

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With today’s medical advances, research, and improved management, horses are living longer and longer lives. In the past, most horses were considered old when they reached their late teens. These days, it’s not uncommon for horses to live into their late 20s or even into their 30s, allowing us to spend plenty of quality time with our elder equine friends. Proper management is key to ensuring that the older horse is happy and comfortable throughout his golden years.

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Your parasite management program should give some attention to stomach bots and tapeworms. To control these parasites more effectively, it helps to understand their life cycles.

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A French study has confirmed that mixed grazing with cattle helps control strongyle worms in horses. Grazing horses with cattle is often suggested as a useful pasture management tool to help control strongyle parasites. However, there has been little research to assess the benefit.

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For a horse owner, there are few sights more welcome than the first signs of spring. As the snow melts away and the pastures begin to turn green, horse owners are glad to see the end of short days, frozen water buckets, and woolly coats. Springtime means longer, warmer days to spend working in the arena or hitting the trails. The season is also an ideal time to catch up on your horse’s healthcare needs.

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When you have finally found the perfect horse to take you to the winner’s circle, it’s tough to realize that he or she might be getting old. Many horses are now competing well into their late teens and early twenties, especially in certain disciplines such as dressage or show jumping where it takes many years of training to reach an elite level of competition. However, from a veterinary perspective, horses are considered geriatric as they reach the age of 15 to 20 years, which is when their physiological functions start to decline. The management of these horses becomes crucial to keep them competing at their best.

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Each season brings with it certain needs for equine care, and an annual horse health care agenda can help with some of the planning as the months rapidly roll by. Horse owners are good at knowing the value of organizing and preparing ahead to help their horses stay healthy, and to budget for the more expensive seasonal needs ahead of time.

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