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Treating Lungworm in Horses

6th July 2017

If you keep horses, ponies or donkeys, then you need to be aware of the risks that the lungworm parasite Dictyocaulus arnfieldi can pose to your animals.

Lungworm in horses

Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm which affects horses and can cause serious health issues.

Once infected, horses can suffer with heart and blood problems due to the lungworm in their system.

How is lungworm in horses transmitted?

Slugs and snails can carry the dangerous lungworm parasite, so when your horse is out and about, the chances of encountering a harmful carrier is increased.

This threat is higher during wetter months when slugs and snails are quite common, and while feeding, horses can ingest these carriers by accident.

Also, contact with the slime trail in food and water bowls can be enough to cause infection too.

Although lungworm cannot be passed from animal to animal, the horse can pass larvae in its waste, which can then pass on the infection.


What are the effects of lungworm?

Lungworm causes cardiac and respiratory disease, such as coughing, as well as haemorrhages in the lungs, liver, intestine, eyes, and spinal cord.

If left untreated, it can be fatal.

Is my horse is infected with lungworm?

Signs of lungworm disease are vague, and easily confused with other illnesses

Some common symptoms are;

  • weight loss
  • breathing difficulties
  • coughing
  • bringing up blood with coughing
  • lethargy
  • poor blood clotting
  • sickness
  • stomach and back pain
  • poor appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Additionally, changes in normal behaviour, such as tiring easily, can often remain unnoticed by owners, making lungworm difficult to diagnose quickly.

How is a lungworm infection diagnosed?

Diagnosing lungworm is difficult and can involve multiple tests, including;

  • taking blood samples
  • analysis of stool samples for eggs and larvae
  • chest X-rays
  • bronchoscopy



What to do if you think your horse has lungworm?

If you think your horse is displaying signs of the disease then call your vet immediately.

Once diagnosed and treated, most animals make a full recovery and starting treatment early is one of the most important stages of recovery.

Killing lungworm is relatively simple, and involves making sure anti-parasite preventative treatments administered to your horse as directed.

Fellowes Farm shop carries a wide range of Lungworm treatments that can fight lungworm infections, as well as tackle other worm infestations in horses.

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