Tapeworm Problems and Treatment in Horses: A Comprehensive Guide

As, we hope, a fairly authoritative voice in equine matters including health, we must now look into the somewhat intricate world of tapeworms in horses. These elusive parasites, though often hidden from plain sight, can wreak havoc.  We’ll now, briefly, explore their insidious ways, diagnostic methods, and effective treatments.

The Silent Invaders: Tapeworms

  1. The Covert Culprits
  • Unlike other intestinal worms, tapeworms take a clandestine route. They develop within an intermediate host—the microscopic forage mite.
  • Horses unwittingly ingest these mites when grazing on hay or grass. The mites harbour tapeworm larvae, which mature into adult parasites within the horse’s intestines.
  1. Testing for Tapeworms
  • Standard faecal worm egg counts (FWEC) won’t reveal the presence of tapeworms – instead, we must turn to specialised tests.
  • Blood Test (ELISA): Detects tapeworm antibodies. High levels indicate infection intensity.
  • Saliva Test (EquiSal Tapeworm): A novel approach. Owners collect saliva swabs, revealing tapeworm burden.
  1. Treating the Stealthy Invaders
  • Targeted Treatment:

Identify high-burden horses through testing.

Administer praziquantel or a double dose of pyrantel.

Monitor response and retest annually.

  • Annual Worming Program:

Practical for some yards.

Treat all horses every six months.

New arrivals undergo tapeworm testing or receive combined treatment.

  1. The Unseen Consequences
  • Inflammation and Impaction:

Tapeworm attachment to intestinal walls causes inflammation.

Impaction and colic may follow.

  • Young Horses at Risk:

Untreated young horses face tapeworm-related diseases.

Vigilance is key—monitor exposure and intervene when necessary.

Choosing the Right Path

As guardians of equine well-being, we stand at a crossroads. Targeted treatment or annual prophylaxis? Each yard, each horse, demands a tailored approach. Let us tread wisely, for tapeworms may be silent, but their impact echoes through our stables and fields .

Knowledge is our greatest weapon. Regular testing, informed decisions, and vigilant care should  keep our equines free from these hidden adversaries.



Please note that this and all article posted on our website merely give our opinions and are not intended as veterinary or any other form of advice