My Horse has Ticks!
Jun 22, 2011
I was wondering if there is any certain products that will help to prevent or reduce tick numbers on horses? I have never had any major tick problems until this year and my three horses have ticks all over, mainly in their manes. My gelding, has them the worst, they seem to appear where his mane is black rather than the white portions and basically I haven't the slightest idea where to even start with this issue. Also I was wondering with all these ticks should I be getting any certain vaccines just to be on the safe side? - Amanda
Ticks appear to be more prevalent this year, and we have seen them on several horses here in the clinic. Unfortunately, ticks are difficult to control but there are a few measures you can take to protect your horse. Ticks are found in heavily wooded areas and tall grass, so keeping your horses out of the woods and mowing pastures regularly is important. Inspecting your horses regularly for ticks will allow you to remove them before they've been attached for very long. Manes, tails, and ears are especially important to check, as ticks can hide easily in these areas.
If you do find a tick on your horse, you can remove it by gently grasping the head of the tick, right at its insertion to the skin, with tweezers. Be sure to remove the head of the tick, because if left behind it will remain under the skin and cause pain and irritation. Dispose of the tick in a jar of alcohol to be sure that it is killed. Wash the site of attachment with an antiseptic and monitor it for any signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or discharge. You can take the tick to your veterinarian to determine if it is the species that carries Lyme disease.
There are products available for application to your horse. Many fly sprays also repel ticks and can be applied daily to your horse. Applying a spray before riding, especially on trails, can help prevent tick attachment. Products that contain permethrin have the ability to control ticks, and are available in sprays, spot-ons, and pour-ons. A few product names include Permectrin, Ultrashield, Duraguard, and Equi-spot.
Ticks can carry several diseases, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and piroplasmosis. Unfortunately there are no vaccines against these agents. There is a Lyme vaccine for dogs, but it is not approved for use in horses. Removing ticks from your horse soon after they attach is an efficient way to prevent tick-borne diseases, because the chance of disease transmission increases with length of attachment. The tick control and prevention measures stated above are the best way to prevent your horse from acquiring a tick borne disease. To read more about tick-borne diseases and other equine insect problems, go to our educational article "Insect Related Health Concerns".
Bethany Couture DVM