It is important to know what types of ticks could affect your horse. At the very least, tick bites cause irritation and restlessness. However, large numbers of ticks can cause extensive blood loss that could result in potentially life-threatening anemia. In addition, ticks can also transmit diseases as they feed on their host's blood, such as Lyme disease, piroplasmosis (babesiosis), equine granulocytic anaplasmosis (EGA, formerly called equine ehrlichiosis), and equine infectious anemia.
Ticks are not species-specific parasites. In other words, the same species of tick that bites your horse could also bite you, your family members, or your other pets. Therefore, effective tick control is essential around your barn, pasture, and home. As with most insect control procedures, however, diligence is necessary to help protect your horse. To help prevent tick infestations, choose a suitable spray or wipe-on repellent specifically designed to control ticks. Also, carefully check your horse during regular daily grooming routines.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to spot ticks on your horse's body. However, all ticks will cause your horse to scratch. If you witness rubbing against a fence post
or stall wall, immediately examine the skin in the area your horse has rubbed. If you spot a tick, immediately remove it. If you see a 1" welt along an attachment site, it is a sign that a deer tick has bitten your horse but since dropped off.Instead, use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick:
- Grab the tick firmly by the head, where it enters the skin
- Pull - do not yank - firmly and steadily straight away from the skin
- Dispose of the tick properly in a small jar of rubbing alcohol
- Wash the attachment site with a mild antiseptic
- Wash your hands
Unfortunately, ticks can be difficult to kill. Their flat bodies prevent them from being easily crushed. Some have even been known to survive a fire. But once you have removed a tick from your horse's body, you cannot simply release it back into the wild. Doing so almost ensures the tick will return to your horse or another barn visitor. Instead, place the tick in a sealed glass jar that has been filled with rubbing alcohol.