Posted by Joyce Harman, DVM, MRCVS on Apr 10th 2023
Lyme and bugs come with spring!
As spring rolls around, the warm weather and longer days bring out ticks and other pesky insects that can spread diseases to your horses, like Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, and it’s mainly deer ticks that spread it to horses when they bite. If your horse gets infected, they might show signs like lameness, swollen joints, stiffness, mood changes, or even neurological problems. Even though not all horses exposed to the bacteria end up with Lyme disease, it's super important to keep an eye on your horses and protect them from tick bites during spring.
Ticks aren't the only problem, though. Biting flies and mosquitoes can also cause trouble for your horses by spreading diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV). EEE can make your horse's brain and spinal cord swell up, leading to symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, and neurological issues. WNV can cause similar problems, and sometimes it can even lead to permanent damage or death. To keep your horses safe from these diseases, you should use fly sheets, fly masks, and insect repellents. Check with your veterinarian to see if any of these diseases have been seen in your area. Many parts of the country seldom have to worry, while other locations these diseases are common.
The best way to handle the risks from ticks and other insects during spring is to prevent and detect them early. Check your horses for ticks regularly and remove any you find right away. Try the new Tick Slick to make your horses hair less likely to allow a tick to attach. Keep some of Hilton Herb’s herbal TX products on hand, to either treat your horse if you suspect Lyme or to use as a preventative when ticks are numerous. The idea is to alternate between the two products so the Lyme bug cannot become resistant. See this article for more information.
Also, keep your horse's environment clean and well-maintained by getting rid of standing water and keeping grass trimmed. This will help cut down on places where ticks and mosquitoes like to hang out. By staying on top of insect control, you'll be doing your part to protect your horses from diseases spread by ticks and other insects in the spring, making sure they stay happy and healthy.