Tick Trouble?

Ticks on horse

Tick trouble?

It’s tick time of year and we are getting a lot of requests from our equine clients about how to deal with these pesky little critters.

During their life cycle, ticks alternate between living on the ground and on host animals. They tend to be worse where long grass is present as the tick uses the stems as a loading ramp onto the host animal.

On horses, the most common bite sites are the groin, along the lower belly, chest and face.  Fortunately, in NZ the tick species does not pose a risk of other nasty diseases and we do not see big enough infestations on horses to cause anaemia from blood sucking.

As well as being unsightly, ticks can also irritate horses with some getting large swellings around where they attach to the skin, which may become inflamed and infected. They also can make some horses itch which may lead to other traumatic injuries. 

Manual removal of ticks is not sufficient treatment as it can leave parts of the parasite behind, which carries a risk of infection. 

Treatment options:

  • Permoxin insecticidal spray or rinse - This needs to be applied once a week and requires re-application following washing or if your horse/pony/donkey has been rained on. Can be applied more frequently if needed.
  • Frontline – Is an off-label option. Please call to discuss its usage with your veterinary provider.

Prevention options:

  • Python ‘tick tags’ – these need to be applied to 3-4 sites; on headcollar, rug, mane, and/or tail. 

If you have tried all the above options and are still having problems DO NOT USE cattle and deer products in horses/ponies/donkeys without veterinary advice as they may cause side effects. Call your vet if you see swellings and irritation from tick bites as there are several treatment options available to help control these.

Dr Melissa Sim DVM