"Cowgirl Magazine" - Horse Lice

"Cowgirl Magazine" - Horse Lice

Did you know horses can get lice? The answer is they can! These parasitic insects like to nest in the hair of horses and other mammals. They can cause a serious case of the itches! Most people assume that lice result from poor living conditions, but any horse could be at risk for them. Find out what they are and how you can prevent them!

What are horse lice?

There are two types that affect horses, the sucking and chewing kind. A sucking louse feeds on the blood of your horse, while the chewing type consumes the skin scales. They aren’t fans of human heads though. Adult lice will be pale in color and an off-white. They can be identified by parting the hair and looking closely.

Look out for these symptoms!

  • Weight loss
  • Matted fur
  • Patches of missing hair
  • Rubbing and itching against things
  • Sores or scabs on the skin

How can you treat an infested horse?

If the infestation is very bad then speak with your veterinarian. They can provide the proper dosage and product. On the market, you can find a range of horse-approved solutions in the form of a pour-on, powder/dust, and shampoo. Permethrins and Sevin have been used with great success.

Treating the horse is just the beginning though. You’ll have to clean all of his tack and barn equipment. You should also avoid using the horse’s paddock for 14 days to starve off the lice.

What about prevention…

They are usually picked up from other horses. Long winter hair and poor grooming habits are prime environments for these parasites. You should carefully monitor and quarantine any new horses to ensure they don’t have lice. Avoid using equipment from an infected horse.

Just the thought of lice can give people chills. Don’t let them attack your barn!