Ticks are a fear for everyone passing through grassy or forested areas. The tiny arachnids can crawl undetected under clothes and latch themselves on to any bit of skin. The threat is greater for a horse, who will not be looking for a tick and has no real way to remove them. But just what threat, beyond the obvious gross factor, do they pose to a horse’s health?
The worst case scenario involves your horse being so thoroughly infested with ticks that she begins to experience anemia, or a shortage of red blood cells. Ticks survived by sucking the blood of animals, nevertheless, this is not a major issue for horses considering their sizes.
Ticks are often carriers of a number of diseases, the two most common of which are Lyme disease and piroplasmosis. Signs of Lyme disease, which can manifest itself into a serious condition, often include soreness, fever, and joint stiffness and can often be mistaken for a mild cold.
Piroplasmosis on the other hand causes weakness, depression, and fever, and is much more common in the Caribbean and is carried by tropical horse ticks.
Ticks love to latch themselves on certain parts of a horse. The mane and tail of a horse are two of the most popular locations. Ticks can also attach themselves to almost any parts of your horses, including their legs and under the body. Some ticks are actually much more predisposed to burrow into the ear of a horse. Predictably, there are known as ear ticks. If you notice your horse in considerable discomfort tossing her head, this may be the reason.
Unfortunately, tick prevention is quite a challenge. There is no way to ensure that ticks will not come to call your animal home, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the possibility. Because ticks occur most often in heavily wooded areas or areas with tall grasses or bushes, you can avoid these areas and keep fields mowed regularly.
The greatest thing you can do for your horse with regards to ticks is to control them. After riding in an area that you fear may be home to many ticks, it is useful to conduct a thorough check of all the likely hiding spots on your horse’s body. Despite their size, ticks are also very accomplished at tracking their prey, and could follow your horse all the way home. Because of this, doing a quick tick check over the next few days may be a good idea.
If you do find one or more ticks on your horse’s body, there are several options. No matter what treatment methods you go for, the number one rule is to try remove the ticks as soon as you can. Special tweezers made for tick removal are available, but this may not be practical for removing ticks from several areas.
Another solution is a topical pesticide. These chemicals come in many forms, including spray cans, powder or paste form, and can be applied to the affected areas. It is important to realize that these pesticides will not kill the ticks immediately and they might not fall off for several days.
Do you know that the first horse was called Hyracotherium? It lived about 50 million years ago and was only as tall as a fox. To learn more about horses, including horse health and training & horse supplies, visit us at PetCustomer.com.