Donkey De-Worming!

Bluebell the donkey!

As donkey owners will know, donkeys cannot just be lumped in the same box as our horse and pony friends! Donkeys get redworm like horses and the worm egg counts are just as useful for donkey redworm control as horses – they can be included in our annual worming programme.

For the treatment of redworm not all products are licensed in donkeys but due to increasing resistance to wormers an unlicensed product may be required.

Below is an example of the de-worming diary recommended by The Donkey Sanctuary.

This gives particular treatments that may need to be carried out, however it should be noted that throughout the whole year it is recommended to perform Faecal Worm Egg Counts (FWECs) every 8 – 10 weeks to specifically tailor make a treatment plan for your donkey. Worm egg counts are performed on a small sample (handful size) of droppings which you can bring into the practice in a small labelled bag (e.g. freezer bag).


January to April Encysted cyathostomins (encysted redworms)

FWECs do not evaluate the burden of cyathostomin larvae. Treatment for encysted larvae will assist in reducing future pasture contamination and will guard against gut damage associated with encysted larvae.

Treatment options:

Equest (Moxidectin) – Not licensed in donkeys but is safe to use

  5 day Panacur (Fenbendazole) – Licensed in donkeys but lots of
resistance so may not be very effective. Good to use in young
donkeys/underweight/pregnant jennies

It should be noted that if your donkey has many FWECs that are 0 – there will be no need to treat for encysted cyathostomins.

Throughout the year perform FWECs every 8 – 10 weeks
March to May Liver fluke

A survey by the Donkey Sanctuary has found that a surprisingly high number of donkeys suffer from liver fluke. As fluke eggs do not show up in a standard worm egg count you might like to also ask for a fluke egg test. If your fields have wet areas or are subject to flooding it would be advisable to test for fluke annually. Spring is the optimum time for testing.


November Tapeworm

Tapeworm is much rarer in donkeys than horses but in high risk situations it would still be beneficial to treat once a year.

Treatment options

 Praziquantel paste (unlicenced) will treat tapeworms only and is available on special order

Double dose Pyratape P or Strongid P (Pyrantel embonate) – treats
for redworms and tapeworm

It should be noted that multiwormers (i.e. Equest Pramox or Equimax) are not advocated in donkeys.

Lungworms are a parasite that generally cause little problem for donkeys unless they are grazing with horses. Lungworms only develop fully in donkeys yet the immature forms in horses can be a serious cause of coughing. Therefore, if a donkey’s field companions are coughing, it can make sense to test the donkey faeces for lungworm larvae.

Please speak to your vet for more worming advice or contact us to register for our worming programme.

March Is Tapeworm Testing Time For Your Horse

Milbourn Equine recommend worming against tapeworm in March and September. We do strongly advise that we test for tapeworm first to check if worming is required to reduce the development of resistance to the medicines used to treat them.

Testing for tapeworms cannot be done through the standard faecal worm egg count.

Either a blood test or the Equisal Tapeworm saliva test can be used to identify whether your horse has a tapeworm burden.

A blood sample can be taken by your vet to test, a method known as the ELISA or tapeworm antibody test. A horse with a high level of tapeworm infection will produce a large number of antibodies, which can be detected in the blood.

The test indicates a broad level of intensity, rather than tapeworm numbers. The amount of antibodies will indicate whether the burden is low, medium or high.
The Equisal tapeworm saliva test is performed on a swab of saliva taken from the horse’s mouth which is much quicker and less invasive than a blood test. The Equisal test has been shown to have very similar effectiveness as the blood test in detecting the presence of tapeworms.

The procedure is simple and full instructions are provided in the kit which is now available from us.  A swab is inserted into the mouth where the bit normally goes, then placed into a collection tube which is then posted to the laboratory by the owner for analysis. The result is returned to the practice and your vet will contact you with the result and advice for treatment if required.

To find out more and how to join our Equine Healthcare Plan to receive discounts on your worming treatments, tapeworm testing and membership to our worming programme please see www.milbournequine.co.uk

Encysted Small Redworm Worming Reminder!

Don’t forget now is the time to treat your horse for Encysted Small Redworm (ESRW) if you haven’t done so already this Winter. ESRW are the early stages of the small redworm enveloped within a fibrous capsule in the mucosa of the large intestine.

Courtesy of Zoetis

There isn’t a definitive test for ESRW and a negative or low faecal worm egg count doesn’t rule out the presence of encysted stages if egg laying adults aren’t present. Mass emergence of encysted larvae, often coinciding with warmer weather in early spring, may cause a condition known as larval cyathostominosis. This can cause diarrhoea and colic.

Every horse should receive an annual treatment to combat ESRW, ideally during November/December and definitely before spring arrives.
Moxidectin is the only licensed ingredient for single-dose control of ESRW and is contained in two products – Equest and Equest Pramox. Please contact Milbourn Equine for more information and advice on worming your horse.

We also offer an Equine Healthcare Plan at Milbourn Equine which includes membership to our annual worming programme. This helps create an individually tailored worming programme for your horse, based on worm egg counts as well as offering discounts on worming products.


It is the time of year when all horses should be wormed against encysted red worms, regardless of what worming programme they are on.

Horse worms
Picture courtesy of Horse and Hound

Results from this year’s National Equine Health Survey have shown that many owners are not aware of how to worm their horses effectively against encysted red worms – which are an important parasite that can cause serious illness.
Once the weather gets colder, the larval stages of this worm bury themselves in the lining of the horse’s colon. This can cause significant disease in the Spring, as once the weather warms up the worms emerge en masse. This frequently results in colic and diarrhoea; in many cases this can be fatal.

Horse worming
Picture courtesy of Horse and Hound

To prevent this, horses need to be wormed in late autumn to early winter with a wormer effective against encysted red worms. The two drugs that are effective are Moxidectin (Equest), or a five day course of Fenbendazole (Panacur Equine Guard). We recommend that horses are wormed with one of these products after the first hard frost.

Because there are few drugs effective against this important worm species, it is important to use these drugs carefully in order to prevent worms becoming resistant to them. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that Equest is only used at this time of year, unless recommended in special circumstances.
These worming products are all effective against encysted red worm.

More information is available on our recommended worming programme.