Tick Removal Key To Reducing Disease Transmission

by | 02.28.2018 | 3:10pm

While it's important to minimize a horse's exposure to tick habitat by mowing fields and cutting down branches that overhang pastures, it's also imperative that direct measures are taken to prevent ticks on horses. The most important of these measures is to inspect horses each day for attached ticks, specifically in the mane and at the base of the tail and on the belly, as well as beneath the chin and in the groin area. Tick removal is key to reducing the risk for disease transmission; ideally all ticks would be removed within 24 hours of attachment, which is how long it is theorized they need to attach to spread disease.

It's also important to check horses that are trail ridden or who are ridden in tall grass. Feeling your horse's skin as well as visually inspecting him will help locate ticks that like to attach to thinner-haired areas of the horses, which are also areas typically more-shielded from the environment.

It is imperative that ticks are removed carefully so that the mouth parts, which are embedded in the horse's skin, are removed as well. To remove an attached tick, use tweezers, grasp the tick by the head where it enters the skin and pull gently, without twisting. Be sure to remove all parts of the tick and that nothing is left in the horse's skin. The tick can then be destroyed by flushing it down the toilet or immersing it in a jar of alcohol.

In addition to mowing and trimming to remove tick habitat, it's also helpful to use insecticides that contain permethrin or cypermethrin on your horse, whether they are in the form of sprays, powders, wipes or shampoos. While there is no guarantee that these will keep ticks from biting, they can typically act as a repellent for up to 8 hours.

There is no equine vaccine for tick-transmitted Lyme disease, but research is being done to see if the canine vaccine can be used off-label for horses.

Read more at Stable Management.

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