While it’s not entirely impossible for horses to get fleas, it is unusual. For the most part healthy horses can resist flea predation. Additionally, fleas are typically host specific (targeting only certain types of animals). For example, cat fleas do not infest dogs, and dog fleas do not infest cats.
Even so, in unusual circumstances fleas may attempt to get a meal from an unusual host. In this article will discuss the improbability of horses getting fleas and provide tips to help you avoid this unlikely occurrence. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
When Could A Horse Get Fleas?
Horses that are unhealthy are naturally subject to illness and parasite infestation. A horse who is underweight, sick, aged or otherwise in compromised health would be likely to attract mites, ticks, fleas and other fairly unusual parasites.
Fleas are also able to wait for a very long time between meals if there is no host available.
For example, if you move your horse into a barn that has been empty for a very long time but formerly had a large population of barn cats, you may be moving your horse into a situation filled with hungry fleas.
In that case, your horse might have a brief and enthusiastic infestation of cat fleas. You might, too, for that matter. This is a situation that would burn out on its own and amount to nothing.
If you are on a trail ride and happen to ride through an area that has heavy flea infestation for some reason, your horse may pick up some fleas. Again, if your horse is healthy this is unlikely to be a serious problem.
To deal with this sort of temporary swarming, you could bathe your horse with Dawn dish soap and/or spray thoroughly with your usual fly products.
If your barn or property seem to be infested with fleas, talk with your county agent to choose an appropriate product to eradicate them.
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What Can You Do To Prevent Fleas On Horses?
All of the things that you do to prevent flies on horses will prevent fleas on horses. Be sure to keep your horse healthy by feeding a balanced and wholesome diet.
Add supplements to boost your horse’s immune system and to act as natural fly repellents.
Groom your horse every day and apply fly spray as needed. The common fly repellents found in standard equine fly products will also repel fleas.
Keep other animals on your property free of fleas. Be sure that your dogs and cats take an appropriate flea repellent oral supplement on a regular basis.
Use flea sprays, powders, collars and the like as needed to prevent flea infestation on animals who live around your horse.
So Fleas Aren’t Really A Problem For Horses?
For the most part, you should never see fleas on your horse. This is a very unusual circumstance, but as noted, it’s not entirely impossible.
If you keep a clean barn and surrounding property, keep your horse healthy and take care of all companion animals correctly, you should not have a problem with fleas on horses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Far more common and bothersome than fleas on horses are:
– Biting flies
– Horse mange
– Bot flies
For the most part, biting flies cause annoyance and disturbance and can cause a horse to behave erratically and dangerously while being handled, ridden or driven. Some of the worst biting flies are:
– Stable flies
– Black flies
– Horse flies
– Deer flies
– Horn flies
Bot flies can also drive a horse crazy as they buzz around incessantly attempting to lay their eggs on the horse’s ears, legs and chest.
Mosquitoes love to feast on horses’ blood and will converge on them at night in the pasture or barn. Horses may not suffer from or even notice the mosquitoes and their bites, but these pests are vectors of illnesses such as equine encephalitis. They carry diseases from horse-to-horse and sometimes to other livestock and to people. For this reason, it is important to keep your horses’ vaccinations up-to-date and to protect your horse against all biting insects with the use of a good repellent product. Prevent mosquito breeding by eliminating areas where water may accumulate and stand. Empty your horse’s water trough and fill it with fresh water frequently to prevent mosquitoes breeding in it.
Lice usually cause the most trouble in the wintertime when your horse has its winter coat. There are two kinds of lice, biting and sucking lice. The sucking lice congregate on a horse’s back, head and neck, as well as the inner thighs in great numbers. A large infestation can cause significant and serious blood loss. This is especially dangerous for horses who are very old or young, are thin or are otherwise in compromised health.
Biting lice travel over a horse’s body eating hair and skin scales. This activity causes itchy, painful skin conditions, such as scabies, barn itch and mange. Both types of lice can travel from one horse to another, so it’s important to thoroughly examine any new horse you introduce to your property and take care of any infestation problems before allowing contact with other horses. Keep your horses well fed, sheltered and cared for to help them naturally repel all external parasites.
In the past, it was rare for ticks to infest horses; however, this phenomenon is becoming more and more commonplace. This may be a result of overall warming temperatures that expand ticks’ habitat. It may also be caused by habitat disruption of types of wildlife that usually host ticks. Tick infestation can be very serious as it can cause skin irritation, coat damage, anemia and the transmission of serious diseases, such as:
– Equine Granulocytic Anaplasmosis
– Equine Piroplasmosis
– Tick Paralysis
– Lyme Disease
Horses pick up ticks from grass while grazing or from tree bark and branches in the woods. Examine your horse for ticks daily, and use tick repellent liberally to help protect your horse against infestation.