Spring Tapeworm Control Important for Grazing Horses

Before horses start grazing on the green grass this spring, remember to check with your veterinarian to ensure your deworming program includes tapeworm control.

Tapeworms are transmitted by an intermediate host, the oribatid mite, which lives on pastures. While grazing, horses can ingest the mite and become infected. Once infected, it takes the tapeworm about two to four months to mature inside the horse. 

“Spring is a perfect time for transmission of the tapeworm,” says Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS, DACVS, Senior Equine Professional Service Veterinarian, Boehringer Ingelheim. “As horses begin to get out and graze, they may become infected with tapeworms, which can lead to colic.” 

One study reported that 81 percent of the ileal impaction cases were tapeworm associated. Tapeworms can cause many other kinds of problems in the digestive system. For instance, tapeworms attach to the ileocecal area and may cause inflammation, ulceration and bowel obstruction. In young horses, tapeworm infections can cause a potentially life-threatening condition known as intussusception, which is the telescoping of the intestine into itself. 

Cheramie warns that these health concerns aren’t just for a particular age or geographic area. Tapeworm infections can occur in all ages of horses greater than 9 months of age, and tapeworms are common in grazing horses across the country.In one U.S. survey, more than half of the horses were infected with tapeworms. In fact, infection rates were as high as 95 percent in the upper Midwest and as high as 82 percent in Southern states. 

“It doesn’t matter where you live. Tapeworms are likely a concern in your area,” Cheramie says. “It’s important to make sure parasite control programs include effective tapeworm control.” 

However, many dewormers are not effective against tapeworms. Horse owners should look for ingredients like praziquantel, which is found in broad-spectrum dewormers such as Zimecterin Gold (ivermectin and praziquantel) by Merial. ZIMECTERIN Gold is approved to control more species and stages of parasites, including tapeworms, than any other brand. It is more than 99 percent effective against natural tapeworm infections.* Plus, ZIMECTERIN Gold is approved for use in adult horses and foals as young as two months of age. 

“Spring is a great time to consider your parasite control program and to make sure that horses are set up for a healthy year,” Cheramie says. “Treating for tapeworm infections, as recommended by your veterinarian, can easily and inexpensively help prevent the potential health concerns associated with tapeworms.”

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Not for use in humans. Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children. There have been rare reports of swelling and irritation of the mouth, lips, and tongue following administration of ZIMECTERIN Gold. These reactions have been transitory in nature. Do not use in other animal species as severe adverse reactions, including fatalities in dogs, may result.

About Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health 

On January 1st, 2017, Merial became part of the Boehringer Ingelheim group. As the second largest animal health business in the world, Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to making the industry even better at improving animal health. With more than 10,000 employees worldwide, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has products available in more than 150 markets and a global presence in 99 countries. For more information about Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, click here.

About Boehringer Ingelheim 

Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, Boehringer Ingelheim operates presently with a total of some 50,000 employees worldwide. The focus of the family-owned company, founded in 1885, is on researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing new medications of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine. In 2015, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of about 14.8 billion euros. R&D expenditure corresponds to 20.3 percent of net sales. For more information, please visit

Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim.

®ZIMECTERIN is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2018 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. EQU-0540-PARA0318.

*Anoplocephala perfoliata 

Meadows, D.G.; Henton, J.E.; Reinemeyer, C.R. Control of internal parasites of the horse. TNH-4002. The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service. Available at Accessed August 11, 2006.

Proudman, C.J.; Trees, A.J. Tapeworms as a cause of intestinal disease in horses. Parasitol Today 1999;15(4):156-159.
Reinemeyer C. Update on equine tapeworms presentation notes. Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association Equine Committee. 2003.
Reinemeyer C, et al. A prevalence survey of antibodies to Anoplocephala perfoliata in horses from the United States. Proceedings WAAVP. 2003:18. 






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