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Common Horse Ticks and the Diseases They Carry

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We all hate ticks, and this year there are more than ever! Tick bites are worrisome not only because they can cause skin reactions and/or infections, but they can spread disease. We put together an infographic outlining the top three most common horse ticks in the US, the diseases they carry, and where they are located! Simply click on the link below to access the infographic! 

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HORSE TICK GUIDE

The most common tick-borne diseases horse owners should be aware of are Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis, which are covered in depth below.


What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease in horses is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Horses are exposed to this organism through tick bites but luckily few develop clinical illness post tick bite. Clinical signs of Lyme Disease include: lameness, joint swelling, muscle stiffness, and behavioral changes. Lyme disease can be challenging to diagnose as the it mimics many other diseases. It is important to contact your veterinarian right away if you think your horse may be exhibiting signs of Lyme Disease.

Did you know?

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, in some regions, 50% of horses can show antibodies to the Lyme disease pathogen, but only 10% show clinical symptoms. Over 70% of the ticks reported to feed on horses also feed on humans, transmitting the same pathogens causing tick-borne diseases to you!

What is Anaplasmosis?

Anaplasmosis is the most common tick-transmitted disease that causes illness in horses. The causative organism is called Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Clinical signs of Anaplasmosis usually appear 10-45 days after infection. Clincal signs include a fever typically accompanied by limb swelling, and the appearance of small hemorrhages on the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, eyes and/or vulva. This disease can be fatal if not treated, so be sure to contact your veterinarian if you think your horse is showing signs of Anaplasmosis.

Click here to learn more about ticks and tick-borne diseases that affect horses & humans.

How can we minimize tick exposure?

  • Maintain Pastures: If you have a pasture, keep it at a length that allows for adequate pasture grazing and yet reduces tick-seeking sites. Remove as much leaf litter and weeds as possible. Prevent horses from grazing in wooded areas by installing a fence.
  • Discourage Wildlife: During the summer, try discouraging wildlife by feeding your horse grain in containers, and keep all stored grain in tightly sealed containers.
  • Inspect Your Horse: Inspect your horse daily and remove attached ticks while grooming. Be sure to check susceptible areas such as the lower legs, under the mane and tail, his belly, and around his throat latch and ears.
  • Apply a Tick Repellent: Spray your horse thoroughly with a tick repellent that is specifically labeled for use against ticks such as Pro-Force Fly Spray for protection.
    Avoid products not intended for use on horses. If you’re not sure, check with your veterinarian. - See more at: http://horse-journal.com/article/tick-defensive-tactics-16012#sthash.S0dBpGJ1.dpuf
     Avoid products not intended for use on horses. 
  • Consider Chickens or Guinea Hens: These birds are known for feasting on pesky ticks, plus you can get fresh eggs! Discuss your plan of action with your veterinarian before introducing these birds to your pastures.
    Avoid products not intended for use on horses. If you’re not sure, check with your veterinarian. - See more at: http://horse-journal.com/article/tick-defensive-tactics-16012#sthash.S0dBpGJ1.dpuf

If a horse is severely infested with ticks, it is recommended that you immediately contact your veterinarian regarding tick removal. Heavy infestations will not only severely damage the skin, but the chances of anemia and other complications are high.

How Do You Properly Remove a Tick?

The safest and most effective way to remove ticks on horses is to use the tweezer method! Place your tweezers as close to your horse's skin as possible, grasp the tick firmly and pull. Be sure to remove the entire tick. If you leave part of the tick behind, use the tweezers to pull out the remaining parts.

To remove a tick, place tweezers as close to the skin as possible, grasp the tick firmly and pull. Heads/mouth parts are rarely left behind. Should this happen, however, use the tweezers to pull out the remaining parts. - See more at: http://horse-journal.com/article/tick-defensive-tactics-16012#sthash.S0dBpGJ1.dpuf
To remove a tick, place tweezers as close to the skin as possible, grasp the tick firmly and pull. Heads/mouth parts are rarely left behind. Should this happen, however, use the tweezers to pull out the remaining parts. - See more at: http://horse-journal.com/article/tick-defensive-tactics-16012#sthash.S0dBpGJ1.dpuf
Tick bites are worrisome because they spread disease and because the bites can cause skin reactions, sometimes with infection. Usually, by the time the bite is discovered, horses have large weeping, crusty areas in the mane that eventually cause hair loss as well. - See more at: http://horse-journal.com/article/tick-defensive-tactics-16012#sthash.peycOfp3.dpuf
Tick bites are worrisome because they spread disease and because the bites can cause skin reactions, sometimes with infection. Usually, by the time the bite is discovered, horses have large weeping, crusty areas in the mane that eventually cause hair loss as well. - See more at: http://horse-journal.com/article/tick-defensive-tactics-16012#sthash.peycOfp3.dpuf
Tick bites are worrisome because they spread disease and because the bites can cause skin reactions, sometimes with infection. Usually, by the time the bite is discovered, horses have large weeping, crusty areas in the mane that eventually cause hair loss as well. - See more at: http://horse-journal.com/article/tick-defensive-tactics-16012#sthash.peycOfp3.dpuf

Interesting Tick Fact:

Snowy cold weather is actually the perfect winter environment for ticks! Lasting snow cover provides insulation for ticks through out the winter. So if you have a harsh winter, be prepared for an increased number of ticks the following spring.

Protect your horse from ticks this summer with Force Fly Control

If you are worried about chemicals, Nature's Force also repels ticks. It is an all-natural formula, using a unique combination of oils and other botanicals without the use of harsh chemicals or pesticides.

  • Repels biting insects including mosquitoes, yellow flies, black flies, no-see-ums, gnats, chiggers, ticks and deer flies
  • Environmentally friendly; Contains no insecticides, pesticides, or toxins 
  • Stronger formula than other leading natural Fly Repellents

 Article Sources:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse/health/ticks/

http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/resources/TickborneDiseases.pdf

http://www.thehorse.com/articles/34273/reducing-risk-from-tick-borne-diseases

Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler graduated from Truman State University in 2013 with a BS in Animal Science & Nutrition and a minor in Equine Science. Gabby currently works on Manna Pro’s marketing team, and enjoys competing regularly with her six horses.

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