How to help an itchy foal and what's this on her face?

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barnbum

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Mazie is always itching somewhere--the fence--the run-in--the post in her stall--on her chest with her mouth. I just clipped her--hoping that would help, but it seems she's still itching. I tried MTG on one spot--but it didn't stop her. And she has these small spots where she's missing hair on her head... Ideas on how to help her or what the hairless spots are from? I can't imagine she itched there.
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Tucker doesn't itch at all.

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Joanne

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It looks like lice to me. There are both powders and sprays available. Without the hair there will be no where for the lice to go now so it may be far less of a problem.
 

Jill

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I think it may be lice, too. One of my horses had them before as well and it can happen to any horse so don't feel "bad". Also, the type that get on horses do not get on people so no worries there.

The lice are real hard to see on a horse. Mine (if I'm now laying claim to lice as "mine") were on a light palomino and when my former trainer clipped him, we saw he had them but I had to really look before I saw what she was showing me.

You did a great step by clipping her if that's what she has, and probably now just a bath if she didn't already have one and some of that powder or maybe that "Endure" fly spray (I think that brand kills lice).

PS At one point, years ago, Marty had a poem about lice on horses and it was a riot!!! Maybe she will post it
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barnbum

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Lice? I've never had a horse with that. Is it strange that only she would have it? If that's what is it, where did it come from? That's what's making her itchy?
 

Jill

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We thought the horse I had (have but no longer w/ lice) got them from some chickens but have since heard that the kind birds have don't get on horses, so I don't know. Maybe they could come off other wild animals and get in the grass then on the horse (like from deer or other things). But, yes, it will make them itchy. A lot of times when you've got a horse rubbing his/her mane out, it can be due to lice. But it's a quick fix and I would bet there are a lot of people who will read this and have lice on their own horses but not know it. I know I didn't know Derby had them until he was clipped.

If possible, I'd actually go on and treat your other horses that have been in the same areas as Macie for it. If they've shed out good or Tucker w/ the fluffy / fine hair on foals, probably just dusting or spraying will be okay but make sure that the powder or spray is safe for foals. I know some flea treatments are either for puppies or dogs so might have an age requirement on the lice treatments (?).
 
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albahurst

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One other possibility is that she is itchy from something environmental. I had to take my foal off of straw, give him a bath, and give Children's Benedryl for a day. He is fine now.
 

barnbum

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I found this article... and it doesn't make sense Mazie would have them. She's only a month old--and she's been groomed fairly regularly. And her dam doesn't have them... neither does Tucker and they are together all day long...and she's not stressed. The vet was here yesterday to give Chloe her WNV shot... and she saw the spots and didn't offer a diagnosis...she didn't seem concerned at all. Maybe I should deworm her with Ivermectin... poor baby. I just want the itching to stop. I hate to put too much stuff on her.

From The Horse (although I copied it from another site.)

Horses occasionally get lice, and a horse owner needs to know what to look for and how to treat these irritating parasites. Bill Clymer, PhD, of Amarillo, Texas (now a livestock parasitologist on the professional services staff of Fort Dodge Animal Health), has worked with horses and lice for many years. Earlier in his career, he was an extension livestock specialist with Texas A&M University. We also talked to Jack Lloyd, PhD, professor of entomology at the University of Wyoming; and Sandy Gagnon, extension specialist at Montana State University, for this article.

There are two types of lice that affect horses--sucking lice (above) and chewing lice (below)--and three species. All three live throughout the United States. The sucking lice are probably more damaging because they can create anemia due to blood loss (resulting in weakness or stunted growth in young animals), but chewing lice may be more irritating because horses have very sensitive skin.

COURTESY DR. BILL CLYMER

Lice occur most often in horses that are stressed, Clymer says, by inadequate nutrition, a severe winter, illness, injury, etc. "For 20-some years I had my own research company, doing research on parasites. I'd buy cheap horses that were in poor condition for various research studies, and they'd be the ones that would get heavy lice infestations. Well-fed, well-groomed horses seldom get lice," says Clymer. They seem to have more resistance.

Lice are host-specific--cattle lice won't live on horses or vice versa, and poultry lice only live on poultry. They might crawl around for a while on another species of animal, but won't actually establish a colony, he says. Horse lice are brown and usually are found down next to the skin. They can be hard to see unless you part the hair and use a light and a magnifying glass, but if you watch for a moment, you can see them moving around.

There are two types of lice that affect horses--sucking lice and chewing lice--and three species. The blood-sucking louse is Haematopinus asini, and two species of chewing lice are Bovicola equi and Trichodectes pilosus. All three live throughout the United States.

"The sucking lice are probably more damaging because they can create anemia due to blood loss (resulting in weakness or stunted growth in young animals), but chewing lice may be more irritating because horses have very sensitive skin," he says. "The lice crawling around on the host cause great annoyance."

Horses with lice look rough and unthrifty, with a scruffy hair coat, and they continually rub and scratch. They might have open sores from the rubbing. Any horse that is itching, rolling, or rubbing a lot might have lice and should be checked. By the time you see hair loss, the horse has been itching for a while. Other things that can cause itching and hair loss are mites or dry skin, so be sure to identify the cause before treating the horse.

Horses that are on short feed rations in winter are more prone to both severe louse infestation and other diseases than horses on full feed and maintained in good body condition. "Horses with lice may be more susceptible to disease," Clymer says, "The immune response of the animal has a direct effect on lice numbers and efficacy of any control products."

The Life Cycle

The life cycle of lice varies with the species, with adult females laying between 20 and 40 eggs. "These hatch after a time, depending on external temperature and how close they are to the skin," says Clymer. "The closer they are to the skin, the warmer they are, and the faster they hatch. They generally hatch within two to three weeks, with 30 to 45 days from egg to egg-laying adult.

"Chewing lice are most prevalent on the head, mane, base of the tail, and shoulder, while the sucking louse is commonly found on the head, neck, back, and the inner surface of the upper legs," he notes.

On affected dark-colored horses, you might see the tiny, light-colored eggs on the hair. "Eggs are glued to the hair, and may still be there after the larvae hatch. If you don't look closely, you may think the horse still has a louse infestation, seeing the old eggs--even though the caps have broken off and the larvae already emerged," says Clymer. Empty egg shells stay there, glued to the hair--like an empty bot egg--until they break off or the hair comes out.

Many species of chewing lice have a unique life cycle. Nine out of 10 lice that hatch are reproductive females. The males don't have to fertilize the females for them to lay fertile eggs, says Clymer. "If you have one animal that gets one egg on it, and it hatches, nine out of 10 chances it would be a female. If she lays 40 eggs and 60% of those eggs hatch and nine out of 10 of those are females, in five generations you could have 300,000 lice (plus or minus) from that one female louse."

Transmission

Lice are readily passed from one horse to another by physical contact, especially if those horses are confined together. "They (lice) can also be spread by brushes and equipment used on more than one horse, or in a horse trailer. In a trailer where horses are in close quarters, touching horse-to-horse may spread lice, or a louse may get off on a side panel and onto the next horse," says Clymer. "Horses put into stocks, stalls, or any other place where another horse was recently confined may pick them up."

Sharing brushes is not a good idea; nits (louse eggs) or lice from one horse might have come off in the brush and be ready to brush onto the next horse. Depending on climatic conditions, lice can live for a few days off the host, just waiting for a new host, he says.

"Horses are gregarious; there are lots of opportunities for contamination," Clymer adds. "Horses grooming one another in the pasture or over the fence, or standing next to one another swatting flies, may pass lice around. Lice don't spontaneously appear with the first cold rain in fall and disappear with warm weather in spring. There are a few carrier animals that have lice year-round because their immune systems are such that lice can thrive. These horses serve as a source (of lice) for other horses."

If lice suddenly show up on your horse and you wonder how he got them, think back to where the horse has been. You might have gone to a show, borrowed a horse trailer, or taken the horse to the vet or some other place where a louse-infested horse had recently been.

Winter

Lice populations increase in winter, partly because horses could be stressed more in winter, and partly because they have a longer hair coat then. "There is a direct relationship between hair length and lice populations. Hair protects lice from the horse licking and trying to bite them off. We can put animals in a stanchion where they can't groom themselves and can get as heavy a lice population in summer as we do in winter. The longer hair gives a lot of protection from the rubbing, licking, and biting," notes Clymer.

Lice hang onto the base of the hair as they feed and are only found in hairy areas of the horse. Wherever hair is missing (from being rubbed out) the lice quit biting and leave. Also, if you ride a lice-infested horse in winter and he becomes warm and sweaty, the lice come out to the ends of the hair and are easy to see.

Treatment

Lice are not common on horses, and are fairly easy to control. There are numerous products available for louse control, including sprays, dusts, and wipe-ons. Horses dewormed regularly with one of the macrocyclic lactones (Quest, Quest Plus, ComboCare, Zimecterin, Rotation 1, Ivercare, etc.) might have less lice problems than untreated horses. Chewing lice are less affected, however, because they feed on skin and dander rather than blood.

Insecticide sprays (emulsifiable concentrates or wettable powders) are available for use on horses, but many horses don't like to be sprayed--especially with a high-pressure spray. You must accomplish complete wetting of the skin. If a horse protests, or weather is cold, you can use a dust to avoid wetting the whole horse. A brisk and thorough brushing of insecticide into the hair coat will work; it must get down to the base of the hairs and come into contact with the skin. Horses should be retreated in about two weeks to kill young lice that have just hatched and were not affected by the first treatment. Pyrethroid insecticides might control lice with just one treatment.

Always read and follow the label directions on any product. For advice on specific products to use on horses, consult your veterinarian.

Saddle blankets, brushes, and other equipment used on lice-infested horses should be treated with very hot water or rubbed with an insecticide solution. Bedding from a stall that housed an infested horse should be removed. The stall can be disinfected (or not used for awhile) to get rid of lice the horse left behind. If one horse in a group gets lice, they are all exposed and should all be treated. Otherwise they will keep passing the lice around.

Prevention

Keeping horses well-fed, not stressed, and healthy in a clean environment is good prevention against lice, along with regular brushing and grooming. "If you are continually grooming the horse, you will probably scrape some of those lice off if a horse gets them. If horses get bathed periodically, this will also disrupt lice," Clymer says. Horses should be carefully inspected at purchase before your bring them home. If they have lice, they should be treated before being introduced into your herd, says Clymer. Horses are often transported across the country for shows, breeding, etc., so there are a lot of opportunities to come into contact with other horses. They should be routinely inspected for lice, especially during winter months and particularly if they are kept in close confinement with other horses, he says. There are two types of lice that affect horses--sucking lice and chewing lice--and three species. All three live throughout the United States. The sucking lice are probably more damaging because they can create anemia due to blood loss (resulting in weakness or stunted growth in young animals), but chewing lice may be more irritating because horses have very sensitive skin.

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albahurst--I was wondering about that, too. They are on straw still--just in the place they like to sleep. There are shavings underneath. I will take the straw out and see if that helps... thanks. That makes more sense from what I've read on lice and the fact that no one else has it.
 
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albahurst

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Karla-

Mine was on straw just in the area he slept, too. He actually rubbed several spots completely bald and sore and some other spots the hair is part way off. After I treated him, he hasn't had any further problems. I would question the chips, too.

Mine are now on mats and can go outside if they want to during the night. During the day they are out on corral grass with their dams. We are getting along great now.
 

barnbum

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Hmm--well--I'll need either shavings or straw.... I'll have to do some investigating/experimenting. I just read up on deworming. Her dam was dewormed right after foaling, so I think I need to wait for a few more weeks before I give her Ivermectin. The article says lice hide under a forelock--but she doesn't have one! Her baby hair wasn't that thick either.... I'm not convinced lice is it.

Just came in from the barn....

She's been on shavings and straw since birth--but I've been gradually decreasing straw. I don't know which it could be. I just rubbed MTG on the spots good... hope that helps.
 
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Marty

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Karla, as much as I groom and clip dilligently I have had bouts with lice. They will drive a horse insane, body slamming in fences, and biting at themselves and completely driving them up the wall. It does look like lice to me or can just be caused by the weather, if you have had dampness then humidity too that can breed some nasty cooties. It could be lots of things including knats, your bedding as already suggested or anything that bites. When Timmy was just a month old he was sweating up a storm and I had to shave off that baby fuzz head to toe and bathe him in medicated betadine shampoo to give him some relief and behold the lice. I have no idea where or how he got them but he's not the only one around here that did. ewwwwwww what a gross out.

UGH! Hope you find out what it is!

Well anyhow, here's the Lice Poem

I was watching my horse one day,

I love to watch her when she's at play.

I noticed she began to scratch on a tree,

Her mane and tail was driving her absolutely crazy!

I brought her in to have a real good look.

I was disgusted with what I saw, and that's all it took

.It was lice sucking and biting at her,

This cannot be happening in her beautiful fur!

But it was true, and they had to go,

I declared war on them right away you know,

so if you have some, don't worry & take my advice

,and that will be the end of these horrible lice.

This is what I did to make them leave,

Just come along with me, and roll up your sleeves.

It's not hard, we'll make them go away,

just get some supplies and start right away

I de-wormed with Ivermectrin-

but that's not always enough to get them

Then dust away with de-lousing powder on it,

open the hairs up and get in there where they sit.

And then get a little lice comb that comes with RID,

and comb them out good, that's what I did.

And after that you can shampoo with flea suds

I used Sargents and got it all over my duds

You can spray the RID too if you choose,

or use their shampoo, you can't loose

And then the trick is to repeat some of this,

in 7 to 10 days and you're horse will be in bliss.

And check for the eggs, yes they lay eggs too,

in a few days, they won't hatch anymore for you.

Cause you've clobbered the ugly beasties on your horse

And he's so grateful for all that relief, of course.

But you must dis-infect all your grooming tools now.

Be sure you don't forget that halter too, wow!

And you need to really check yourself too,

cause those nasty buggars could have climbed onto you!
 

Jill

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Karla -- My horse that had them was Derby who was my first show horse. He was groomed a lot by both myself and my former trainer. I know the "stereotype" is that a horse w/ lice has been neglected or kept in poor condition but that's not the case what with my Derby having them and Marty's getting them. It's just something that if you own horses long enough, you will probably have to treat for lice at some point. (Just to stress to you if it turns out to be lice, it's not something to kick yourself about.) And, again, I'd bet about anything there are people reading this who have lice on their horses but have no idea there are lice on their horses.

Marty -- Your poem makes me laugh as much now as it did way back when!!! You are very talented with thoe poems you write
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kaykay

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I agree Jill. If you have horses long enough you will see lice. Kinda like dogs and fleas. No big deal as long as you get rid of them when you see them appear. And its not just sick or stressed horses that get them.
 

barnbum

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Well--she's much better this morning. She only reached around to itch her side once while I watched her--several watches throughout chore time.
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I rubbed MTG in her spots last night--and this morning. The spot on her chest--the biggest one--is almost fine. Sje's stopped itching it. The spots on her head haven't changed, but that will take days I'm sure. I will still stop to get something for lice on the way home (a powder, I think)--but I'm so glad she's not so ithcy. I'm sure the clip helped, too. After clearing her stall--which is done every morning, I sprayed it with Bug Block since they won't be in there for 10 hours.

Hopefully, whatever this is is being taken care of! It's always something, eh?
 

backwoodsnanny

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We too have had one bout with lice and I was as incredulous as you Karla we had had no new horses in and I couldnt believe we had lice as we do alot of grooming as well but sure enough after doing pretty much what Marty suggested no more problem. We also only had one horse affected and he went out with all the others but to be safe I powdered everyone stripped all my stalls and washed them down with bleach. I think all are right who have said if you have horses long enough you will encounter lice at some point. The year we had them it had been very wet followed by very dry weather and the rubbing scratching started. This poor boy lost hair in 3 different places before I figured out what was happening. No one else was affected.
 

barnbum

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Well--I just got home from searching the shelves at Pet-Co--and 100% of shampoos and sprays say do not use on animals under 12 weeks. So--I bought nothing.
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I'm headed out to the pasture now to check on her... and am hoping the clipping and MTG will work. It's a little cool to give her a bath, but maybe if I used the medicated horse shampoo and put conditioner all over her and dried her well--it'd help.

backwoodsnanny--the other reason it's so odd is her bedding is changed daily--and the stalls were disinfected before she was born. Sheesh.
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