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Lice

 

Lice infestations are very common in late winter and early spring, particularly in horses and ponies with plenty of hair. They are almost always associated with intense itchiness.

Affected horses often rub off large patches of hair and can traumatise the skin to leave sores. The worst affected areas are usually the mane, forelock, lower neck and base of tail, although badly affected horses may have lice all over.

 

Treatment

We recommend using products containing permethrin which will kill the lice rather than just repel them. Most louse powders are merely repellents and are rarely enough to cure a chronic infestation. The easiest way to apply a permethrin product is in the form of Switch pour-on. This should be applied weekly for 4 weeks so any larvae hatching out of the eggs are killed as well. If there are several horses to treat, it may be easier using Barricadespray.

Powders can be applied to in contact horses to reduce the risk of infestation transferring to them. Rugs should be washed or treated with powder or spray. Lice are contagious to other horses so try to keep affected horses isolated if possible and monitor

other horses for signs of infestation. The louse species affecting horses cannont be passed on to humans but it is not impossible for them to give an occasional bite!

 

Any horses showing intense itchiness in winter and early spring are quite likely to have lice. The lice are just big enough to be seen with the naked eye and can often be seen moving around. Louse eggs may also be seen as small white eggs attached to the hair shafts. There are different types of lice which can be identified by taking brushings.