What are they
There are 2 types of lice; the biting ones and the sucking ones. Biting lice are usually found on the body but the sucking ones on the mane and tail. They are light grey and small (about 2 - 4 mm), but are visible to the human eye. They feed on skin waste products such as scurf or blood and the eggs stick to the hairs. Lice that infect horses do not survive on humans or other animals. However, lice are easily passed between horses directly or on equipment.
- Severe skin irritation
- Biting and or scratching
- Dull coat
- Mane and tail hair can become matted
- Hair loss
- Loss of condition
- Extreme infestations can cause anaemia
Horse that are in poor condition are more susceptible to lice infestations. Lice like long and dirty coats just the type that horses have during the winter!
Vets can identify and recommend an appropriate treatment. Hair can be clipped if long, loose hair should then be burnt as the lice can survive for up to 10 days in loose hair. There are special sprays available and because the life cycle is short horses should be treated every 2 weeks. Infected horses should be isolated and equipment should not be shared.
Keep skin and coat clean with regular grooming. Horses that are well cared for and nourished are much less likely to become infested!
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