Ticks in horses and corresponding diseases firstvet

Ticks cannot jump or fly, but crawl onto fur by dropping onto the host, in this case the horse, or crawling up the legs from higher grass to take a blood meal. As soon as they are "eaten Once they have found a home, they detach themselves from the host and drop to the ground to lay their eggs.


Ticks are mainly found in rural areas in forest, grass and moorland areas.

The highest number of ticks is often found in areas with high livestock density (including game), including watering holes, feeding areas, and near trees or shrubs and ferns.

Ticks are more active from April to November, but they can remain active at temperatures as low as 3.5 degrees Celsius. Although tick bites occur most frequently from spring to fall, it is therefore important to take appropriate precautions throughout the year.


Tick bites themselves rarely cause a problem. In very large numbers, however, they can cause what is called anemia (anemia) or put a lot of stress on the immune system, but this is very unlikely in horses.

However, ticks can transmit a variety of potentially dangerous diseases, including Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonellosis, and z.B. Q Fever.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It is a severe chronic inflammatory disease that affects many organ systems.

Humans and other animals, including horses, can be affected by Lyme disease. The vast majority of ticks do not transmit the disease. However, it cannot be transmitted from one infected animal to another without the help of ticks. Lyme disease is a growing problem, and owners should be aware of the dangers that ticks can pose and therefore remove them quickly to minimize risks.

Infection typically occurs after the tick has been on the horse for about 24 hours.

Signs of a tick bite (days to weeks)

– Infection local to the area of the tick bite (80% of cases) – Other skin infections, even distant from the tick bite site

Signs of Lyme disease (weeks to months)

– Unfortunately, most infected horses often show no obvious clinical signs – Lameness: sore joints result in a stiff gait and/or recurrent lameness affecting different limbs – Lethargy – Slightly elevated temperature or. "Low" Fever – hypersensitivity v.a. also of the musculature

– Neurological dysfunction – inflammation in the eyes

Diagnosis of Lyme disease

Diagnosis in horses is difficult because lameness caused by other musculoskeletal injuries is more common. In addition, subclinical exposure is common, so a positive blood test result indicates only exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi and does not confirm active infection.

How to prevent tick bites and associated diseases in your horse

If possible, avoid taking your horse into areas with high tick populations, especially during peak tick activity periods in the spring and fall.

Therefore, tick control is a very important part of management: use insecticides and tick repellents on your horse and, if necessary, environmental/grazing management.

Consider "tick predators", like z. B. Use chickens to help limit the tick population.

If you find a tick on your horse, remove it with a tick fork. Tick Twister shares a useful video demonstrating the use of the tick fork.

DO NOT apply petroleum jelly or chemicals and DO NOT freeze/burn the tick, as this encourages the tick to regurgitate its saliva and stomach contents, increasing the risk of infection.

Treatment of tick bites and Lyme disease

If your horse is bitten by a tick or a tick is accidentally dislodged and the mouth parts remain in the skin, the area should be closely monitored for signs of infection. There may be a localized skin reaction that can take several weeks to completely resolve.

Since it is a bacterial infection, the treatment of Lyme disease is an intensive and prolonged treatment with antibiotics. Kidney function is closely monitored before, during and after treatment. Sometimes, despite appropriate testing, a definitive diagnosis of Lyme disease cannot be made, and your veterinarian may recommend that you treat your horse as a precautionary measure.

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