Lice and Mites

Creepy Crawlies.



We are seeing many more cases of lice than normal this winter. There are two types of lice in the UK horse population. The most commonly found are Damalinia species, a chewing louse of about 5mm in size (see above) – they can be seen with the naked eye. There is also a much smaller (2 mm) species Haematopinus species which is a yellow coloured sucking louse.


Both are commonly found in the dense hair especially around the mane and tail. Horses are often intensely itchy (puritic), restless, rubbing and sometimes have flaky skin as a result. Any horse can be affected. If your horse is itchy during the winter months check for LICE.


This pony was having colic surgery – you can see the lice around the eye. This made the anaethetist feel very itchy – let alone the pony!!


Treating is simple and effective – there is a licensed veterinary product ‘Deosect’ that is both safe (to horses) and highly effective. Deosect is diluted 1:50 and can be sponged on or sprayed on with a knap sack sprayer. Treatment is repeated after 14 days (rarely a third treatment may be required. You should wear impervious gloves when handling the product – avoid inhaling – gloves and face mask should be worn when using Deosect. Remember that you must enter the use of any medicine on your horses passport to prevent the animal from entering the food chain at a later date OR sign section IX in the back of the passport which is what we recommend. Deosect is harmful to fish and cats.


Choripotic Mange.



This used to be called ‘heel mange’ – vets at Pool house Equine Clinic are seeing increasing numbers of this mite. It can be a very distressing condition for the horses involved. Affected horses constantly stamp the hind feet or rub the backs of the hind fetlocks and pasterns against the stable wall or fence posts. It is usually heavily feathered breeds that are involved particularly cobs, Clydesdales and Shires.


Chorioptic mites are far smaller than lice and burrow into the skin and are thus difficult to find on skin scraps. The picture above is of a mite found on a horse at the Clinic that was admitted for surgery.



This horse had Chorioptic mange and s constantly irritated by the mites.



There is currently no licensed veterinary product to treat Choripotic mange so vets at Pool House Equine Clinic use a cattle product called DECTOMAX by injection to control this disease. Dectomax has proved very effective and safe.


Alternatively ‘Frontline spray’ for dogs can be used – however our experience is that Dectomax is more effective and it’s not always easy spraying a horses legs!