How I'd treat horse lice
By Jessica Johnston
Tuesday 15 May 2012
Horsemart reader and blogger Jessica Johnston, who has been riding for 11 years, writes about treating horse lice.
Lice problems on horses are unpleasant, but fairly straightforward to treat. There are two types of lice: sucking and biting. Biting lice feed on the blood, whereas sucking lice feed on the skin. This can affect how the lice are treated; however it is difficult to tell them apart unless they are examined in a laboratory under a microscope.
A lice infestation is more common in a horse with a weaker immune system: those that are unwell, for example. The symptoms include hair loss, a dull coat and a loss of muscle tone. A horse will also appear itchier and keen to scratch on any available surface.
Over the counter treatments
There are various over-the-counter treatments available such as powders, sprays and wipe to help control a lice infestation on your horse. Topical treatments such as these are generally more effective for the sucking type of lice. If biting lice are suspected, a wormer can be given to help treat the problem internally (check with your vet for a recommendation suited to your individual case.)
It is important to remember that any type of treatment is usually chemical-based and care must be taken to avoid contact with skin and eyes when applying it to your horse. It is also important to de-lice and thoroughly wash your rugs and saddlecloths to avoid re-infestation.
Alternatively, there are some more natural methods that can be tried, but if the lice infestation is particularly bad it is important to consult your vet, where stronger products may be prescribed.