Tapeworms in Horses

Last Updated on February 19, 2022 by Allison Price

Anoplocephala Perfoliata is a common equine tapworm. It can be found on all properties that horses have access to pasture. It’s not unusual to find this parasite on a horse. Tapeworms are a common parasite infection in horses. Most horses with them do not experience any discomfort or colic. The parasites don’t want to infect horses. Horses are their home.


Tapeworms are common in horses all over the globe. Their presence is dependent on the climatic conditions that favor the orbibatid mite as the intermediate host. Horses in dry, arid states like Arizona, Texas and Nevada are seldom, if ever, exposed to tapeworms. Tapeworms prefer areas that have lush green pastures.


Tapeworm-related diseases can sometimes happen. There could be many reasons. There are many reasons horses might be subject to unusually high infection pressure. This basically means that they have an abnormally high number of tapeworms. This could be caused by poor climatic conditions, overstocked pastures, or excessively stocked paddocks. Horses with suppressed immunity systems due to stress or other diseases are more likely to contract parasite infections and disease.

A. Perfoliata tapeworms are found at the junction of the ilieum, the cecum, and where the small intestine joins with the large intestine. They attach to the intestinal wall right inside the cecum. This parasite can cause colic in the ileocecal area. A simple impaction of a horse’s ileum can be followed by a more complex intussusception in which the ileum telescopes into the cecum. Rarely, the intestinal tract may rupture or twist. Although simple impacts can be treated by a veterinarian, more serious problems such as twisted intestines or intussusceptions will require surgery.

Tapeworms in Horses

Horses of all ages can be infected by tapeworms. Horses do not seem to have immunity. Tapeworm-caused diseases can occur at any age. Clinicians have noticed that yearlings and weanlings who are first infected by tapeworms may be at greater risk of developing ileocecal colic. It is best to start tapeworm treatment as soon as possible after weaning.


Research has shown that McMaster-based fecal egg counts do not reliably detect tapeworms and miss more than 90% of infected horses. Fortunately, better modifies methods exist. One of these methods can detect 90% to 90% of horses that have worm burdens at least 20 worms. This is a low-to-moderate count. These parasites can also be detected by veterinarians in serum and saliva. Tapeworm antibodies can be detected in serum or saliva. This indicates that the horse has been infected with the parasite, or was recently exposed. This information will help veterinarians to recommend a suitable parasite control protocol.


Two types of dewormers are available to treat equine tapworms. Praziquantel is one of the two types of dewormers available for treating equine tapeworms. It can be found in many products. Although it is often used in combination with moxidectin and ivermectin, some manufacturers also make it as a separate product. Praziquantel is very effective against A. perfoliata. Pyrantel pamoate is another type of dewormer. It is twice as effective as praziquantel if administered in double doses. Tapeworm burdens can be reduced by as little as 80 to 85% with a single dose of pyrantel, but they are reduced by at least 95% when taken in a double dose.

Although equine tapeworms do not appear to be resistant, it is possible for them to become resistant to these dewormers. Tapeworm resistance has not been extensively studied by researchers, so it is possible that resistance may develop.

Other Tapeworms

Two other species of tapeworm infect horses: Anoplocephaloides Mamillana, and Anoplocephala Magna. They are very rare and not associated with any disease. They have similar life cycles to A. Perfoliata live in the small intestinale and not the cecum. Healthy horses may sometimes have proglottids (migrating tapeworm segments) in their feces. The same is true for the two other species. The three species are not capable of infecting other animals or humans. Horses cannot also get tapeworms from cats, dogs, or other wildlife.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!