Frequently Asked Questions:


Internal Parasites (Worms): Vaccinations:




How often should my horse be wormed?

Every 2 months  -- a good way to remember it is to worm on the first of every odd (or even ) month.

What should I worm the horse with?

It is best to rotate among the different wormer products/ingredients to ensure that all of the parasites are removed, and to decrease the chance of resistance:

  • Ivermectin with praziquantal (for tapes)

  • Ivermectin

  • Strongid (pyrantel pamoate)

  • Panacure (fenbendazole) or Anthelcide (oxibendazole)

Is there a best worming schedule?

For our San Diego climate we do not have a best schedule, because we generally do not get a winter freeze.   Many worming schedules are based on that first freeze in the fall (ivermectin).

For our area, flies tend to subside in November/December – and we may get a first freeze during this time in Ramona, so here is my suggested schedule:

November/December: Ivermectin + praziquantel
January/February: Pyrantel pamoate (strongid)
March/April: Fenbendazole (perhaps the double dose for 5 days)
May/June: Ivermectin
July/August:  Pyrantel pamoate (Strongid)
September/October: Oxibendazole or Fenbendazole

What are encysted strongyles?

Encysted strongyles are larvae of the strongyle worm that bury themselves into the wall of the cecum or colon.  The larvae can hang out for 45 days up to a few years. 
Regular wormers and worming protocol do not affect the encysted larvae.  

Encysted strongyles may emerge all at one time during winter/spring, causing symptoms such as cow-pie manure, recurrent colic, anorexia, weight loss, swollen legs (edema), resulting in a very sick horse.  More commonly, encysted strongyles are also associated with a poor hair coat and poor weight gain.

How do I remove encysted strongyles?

Encysted strongyles are removed with a double dose of fenbendazole given every day for 5 days (Panacur Power Pack).  Some veterinarians recommend doing this 2X annually – October and February – if the horse is on pasture.  Fenbendazole has a very high safety margin.  (Dr. David Laird of Texas)

Encysted strongyles may emerge all at one time during winter/spring, causing symptoms such as cow-pie manure, recurrent colic, anorexia, weight loss, swollen legs (edema).

Quest (moxidectin) is another wormer that removes a smaller amount of the encysted strongyles, and it has a safety issue.  Quest should not be given to horses that are weak, under nourished, or unhealthy, and should also not be given to foals.  Quest should never be double dosed.

What about the daily wormer Strongid C2x?

It is a wormer that is given in the grain on a daily basis.  It works every well, and Pfizer has a colic insurance policy called Preventicare that will cover up to $5,000 for colic surgery and immediate aftercare – please ask for program details. 

When using this product remember to:

1)      Use ivermectin twice a year (and add praziquantel for tapes once per year).

2)      Feed the wormer daily

Should I give probiotics post worming?

Giving probiotics for one or two days post worming may help to keep the good intestinal bacteria/flora in balance.

Should my pregnant mare be wormed?

Yes.  Pregnant mares should also be dewormed every 2 months.  The labels on the wormers will list if they are safe.  Ivermectin, Pyrantel Pamoate, and Oxybendazole are safe in pregnant mares.  A pregnant mare should also be wormed 30 days prior to foaling and 30 days post-partum.  Lactating mares and their foals should be dewormed every 6-8 weeks.  Use pyrantel pamoate in young foals.

If I have rescued a horse with no known worming history and it looks like it may have a high worm load, what is the safest way to deworm?

Some veterinarians recommend feeding Strongid 2CX (the daily wormer) for 2-4 weeks, and then paste worm with ivermectin.  Giving a Panacur course of 2X the normal dose for 5 days can be done 6-8 weeks later.

How do I get rid of tapeworms?

Tapeworms used to be ignored in the equine world.  But some recent studies found that they do cause problems in the horse and may be a reason for colic.  California has a lower infection rate than the southeastern states.  Once a year treatment should suffice in our climate.  To remove tapeworms use a product that contains praziquantal (Equimax contains ivermectin and praziqunatal), or a double dose of pyrantel pamoate (Strongid) for two consecutive days.


When and what should I vaccinate for?

The general rule for adult vaccines is spring and fall.  


1)  5-way vaccine (contains encephalitic diseases (EEE, WEE), 
     Tetanus,Flu, and Rhino)

2)  WNV – West Nile Virus

3)  Strangles – (if traveling/intermingling with new horses)


1)      Flu/Rhino

2)      WNV (if 6 month product is used)

Rabies and Potomac Horse Fever are two other vaccines that are not commonly used in San Diego County, because neither disease is very prevalent in our area.  Rabies is in the wild bat population in our area.  If you are concerned, Rabies can be added to the vaccination protocol.  Potomac Horse Fever is only necessary if the horse is traveling to an endemic area.

When should foals be vaccinated?

Foals that have received adequate colostrum should be vaccinated at weaning time (around 5-6 months).  Foals should receive Tetanus, EEE, WEE, and Rhino.  They should also receive WNV at this time.  Foals should be boostered 1 month after their first set of vaccinations.  Recent studies have shown that foals should not receive the Flu vaccine until 9 months of age.

When should brood mares be vaccinated?

A brood mare should receive her annual vaccines prior to breeding.  She should be vaccinated for EHV-1 (pneumabort) at 5,7,9 months of pregnancy.  The pregnant mare should also be vaccinated with the annual vaccines 30 days before her due date to prime her colostrum.  Mares should not be vaccinated during the first trimester.

What is acupuncture and how does it work?

That is the big question western scientists have been trying to prove for decades.   Acupuncture does release “feel-good” hormones such as beta-endorphins and serotonin.  This is evidenced when (most) animals and humans relax or even fall asleep during treatment.  In addition, the endorphins provide pain relief (analgesia), and the ACTH and cortisone release provide anti-inflammatory relief.  Acupuncture has been shown to decrease muscle spasms, and to increase local circulation, which stimulates the local repair mechanism.

On a Chinese or more holistic level, acupuncture stimulates the energy channels called meridians.  When the energy flow in the body is stagnant or blocked, pain and disharmony occurs.  The acupuncture treatment unblocks the flow of energy and restores balance to the body, thereby relieving pain and aiding chronic conditions.

When horses are treated with acupuncture one can see the immediate affects of relaxation.  The horse will tend to lick and chew, stretch and yawn, release big sighs and half close its eyes.  This affect will often last 20 minutes or as long as the needles are in place.  After an acupuncture treatment, the horse may act tired or mildly sleepy for up to 24 hours.  Afterwards, renewed energy and specific improvements are noted.  It is recommended that horses not be ridden for 24 hours following a treatment.   However, the horse may be ridden just prior to an acupuncture treatment provided that it is cooled out and dry, not sweaty or wet from being bathed/hosed off.

Dogs and cats will also visibly relax and often fall sound asleep during an acupuncture treatment.  Many dogs will happily lay down where they are told for their second/third treatment.  And some will even push the other animal out of the way to get their turn!