Tick season has come hard and fast this year causing some problems in our horse population.
This time of year most ticks are in their nymph immature stages and so tiny they’re not always easily seen but often leave small raised skin lumps where they’ve bitten and these can be very itchy. The surface of the swellings may also be abrased revealing a tiny circle of raw, oozy tissue. We also see a handful of cases every year of a widespread skin reaction most likely related to a tick allergy. Horse become agitated and lumps and swellings appear across the skin usually relatively slowly but occasionally very rapidly. A vet visit and a anti-histamine +/- a steroid jab may be required in some cases to calm this.
Our clinics sell a range of tried and tested horse-friendly tick control products to help you through the season. Permoxin
is a very effective product at reducing established infestations but does need to be applied daily and after rain showers. It can be sponged or sprayed over the body once diluted to the manufacturer’s recommendations. To give continual low level cover, Repellent Collars
can be placed behind the ears to give slow repellent release giving up to 6 weeks protection. The collars have a quick release system in case they get caught up in fencing etc, although we rarely hearing of this being a problem. Python ear tags have also been used in horses by some but these are designed for deer and are not licensed for use in horses. They are best applied to head-collars or edges of rugs near the head and legs.
There are many reports of owners and trainers using diluted fly control products directly on their horses to prevent tick infestations successfully. As vets, we cannot advocate these as the safety studies have not been performed therefore potential side-effects and risk levels are unknown.