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terça-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2020

The Highlander Cat

A substantial cat, the Highlander brings together the sweeping grace of the curl eared cats, and the massive size of the lynx. Completely domestic, this massive feline averages a weight of fourteen pounds and is a masterful combination of strength and graceful beauty. The head should be an inverted pear shape with medium to large ears that are firm at the base and flexible at the tips. They should be in a relaxed curl of no more than 90 degrees. Ear furnishings and tufts are ideal. Eyes should be medium to large and wide set, resembling a flattened oval in shape. The body is medium to large in size, rectangular in shape and athletic in appearance. Legs should be medium in length, with back legs longer than front. Feet should be medium to large and round with large knuckles; long coats should have toe tufts. The tail should be short and thick, a minimum of one inch long in adults but not extending past the hock. The coat can be short or long and comes in four colors: solid, tortie, tabby, or silver/smoke.

Despite their regal appearance, Highlanders are definitely the court jesters. This is a highly active breed that loves to play chase. Affectionate, they will be first to greet you at the door and will happily show off to visitors. Relatively quiet, this is a soft-voiced animal with few needs and lots of love.

This is a low maintenance breed of cat. General care should be taken when purchasing any kitten from a breeder to check for hereditary diseases and disorders and potential owners should have any kitten examined by their vet before purchasing. Regular grooming is recommended for long haired cats. There are no special nutritional needs.

This is a new breed to appear on the cat fancy scene. Breed development began in 2004 and it's starting name was the Highland Lynx, a name that easily described the size of the cat that was desired. The breed has been developed from the large domestic gene pool, and though the ears resemble those of the American Curl, the Highlander does not receive its ear curl from that same gene. The Highlander is a TICA recognized breed and was accepted for competition in the New Breed class in May of 2008.


segunda-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2020

The Exotic Cat

The Exotic is called to be a harmonious example of balance and refinement. The huge head should be balanced squarely on a thick neck. The skull of the Exotic should be smooth with snub nose and chin vertically aligned and a muzzle that smoothes evenly into full cheeks. The breed should have a stocky and steady body type which lays low on the legs and has a well-rounded midsection and level back. The midsection should be muscular. Legs should be short, thick, and strong with large, round and firm paws. Toes should be carried closed. The tail, like the in the Persian, should be short but proportional and carried without a curve.

There are 88 colors of Exotics, most stemming from the wide variety of Persian colors and patterns. There are no color classifications for the breed; the main difference between Persian coats and Exotic coats is the length. The coat of the Exotic should be dense, plush, and soft, accentuating the rounded shape of the cat and giving it a teddy-bear like appearance. The eye color of the cat should match the coat type, for example a breed standard white Exotic should have deep blue or copper eyes; in the case of an odd-eyed cat, the deepness of color must match in both eyes.

Considered the 'lazy man's' Persian, the Exotic offers the beautiful face and colors of the Persian without the necessary and excessive amounts of grooming. Though it is a hybrid of the American or Domestic Shorthair and the Persian, the Exotic maintains a good number of Persian qualities. The exotic is a quiet cat, rarely vocal. They are easy going and love attention, begging not with their voices but with an intense stare. They love to be kissed and cuddled, more a 'baby' than a 'buddy'. Exotics will sit in your lap, on your shoulder and even hug you when hugged. They are known to sleep with their owners unless preferring a cooler location than the bed. Perhaps because of the breeding with shorthairs, Exotics love to play, and will ponder how to retrieve a toy that has been put away out of reach. They love the simple pleasures in life and will spend hours watching water drip from a faucet or playing with a paper ball. Best kept indoors, the Exotic excellent at adapting to a changing environment and can be introduced to a new home at any age. It is a sweet and loving cat and easily deserves to be called the "best of both worlds".

All in all, the Exotic is a lovely cat, allowing those with busy lives to have the beauty of a Persian in a cat that doesn't require the necessary amounts of grooming.

The breed is relatively new and had its start as an illegal attempt by breeders of American or Domestic shorthairs to breed in the silver and blue colors found in Persians to create a more beautiful short hair. Rather than allow what had become a beautiful hybrid to perish in obscurity, CFA Judge Jane Martinke fought for a new breed to be added to the registries and the Exotic was born. The breed quickly achieved championship status in 1967, though some breeders still sought to breed outside the American Shorthair- Persian combination. Any other pedigree is now disallowed, all exotics must be the product of Persian- American Shorthair heritage.

domingo, 23 de fevereiro de 2020

Cymric Cat

Identical in all but coat length to the Manx, the Cymric and Manx have been combined into one category by some feline associations. A study in circles, the Cymric resembles a bowling ball that is medium in size. The Cymric takes up to five years to reach full maturity. Once maturity is reached, the males will weigh between ten and twelve pounds and the females between eight and ten. They lack a tail and ideally have a rounded rump with a small dimple in place of the tail. The hind legs should be longer than the front with rounded, medium sized feet. Ears are wide at the base and set wide on a rounded head. Eyes should be rounded, large angled and slightly lifted at the outer edge. Coat should be silky, well- padded and thick. The Cymric is allowed to come in any color just like the lovable Manx. There should be tufts of fur between the toes, britches should be easily visible and the ears should be fully furnished in the Cymric but not in the Manx.

Gentle giants and extremely playful, these excellent jumpers are highly intelligent and wonderful family pets. They are very curious and will use their excellent jumping ability to propel themselves to the highest of corners to investigate something that may have attracted their attention. They have been known to use door handles, fetch toys and even bury a toy that they find themselves particularly attached to. Though soft voiced they can be quite talkative and have an enchanting trilling way of speaking. Very people oriented, the Manx will bond hard and fast to those they call their own making re-homing difficult. When introduced properly they will get along easily with other pets and children.

Because this is a tailless breed, there is an absence of vertebrae and with this absence there is always the concern of injury. Owners should always be sure to support the hind quarters of a Cymric or Manx when carrying their cat to prevent placing extra strain on the shortened spine. In addition, children and adults should both be careful not to poke or prod the missing tail area as this can cause extreme pain- the nerve endings in the spines of these animals are not only present, they are exposed and unprotected. Owners should be careful to discuss any genetic spinal disorders with the breeder and be sure to have their kitten examined by a vet before purchase. Other care for the Cymric is fairly easy, they enjoy a careful brushing to help keep mats under control and do not have any dietary requirements.

The Cymric and the Manx share a long and colorful history, with tales of their missing tails even including a story that Noah shut the door of the Ark on their tails and cut them off. They were first discovered on the Isle of Man in a feline population that was believed to have descended from cats aboard ships from nearby England and Wales. Eventually, a genetic mutation occurred within the population and the kittens began to be born without tails. Because the Isle of Man is fairly small and isolated, in-breeding led to this becoming a common trait amongst the cats and by 1750 they were known as 'stubbins'. The first painting of a tail-less cat was created in 1810 and by the late 1800's they were ready to be seen at the begin of the cat fancy era. The short hair versions were the first to be shown and to gain success, with the long-haired Cymric receiving recognition in later years.


sexta-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2020

CA top humane state in nation

 The Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization, has released its second annual “Humane State Ranking,” a comprehensive report rating all 50 states on a wide range of animal protection laws dealing with pets, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife, animals in research, horses and farm animals.

Last year, California topped the list, followed by New Jersey, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts. This year, Illinois moved into third place, due to passage of a raft of important animal protection measures during the 2010 legislative session, including bills to prohibit the keeping of primates as pets and to protect animals from antifreeze poisoning.

Also making great strides were Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska. Oklahoma—one of the top three puppy-producing states in the country—gained major points for passing a comprehensive puppy mill bill in 2010, and also passed legislation protecting pets in domestic violence situations and for allowing the creation of pet trusts. Louisiana, which was the last state to ban cockfighting in 2006, strengthened its laws for spectators of cockfights. And Alaska gained points for making egregious acts of cruelty a felony on the first offense and for closing a loophole that allowed the possession of chimpanzees as pets.
“Our Humane State Ranking provides a big-picture look at how states are faring on animal-protection policies, and how they rank in the nation,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “There are some states that are adopting innovative and strong policies to protect animals, while others are lagging badly.”

In 2010, The HSUS helped pass 97 new laws and regulations to protect animals and helped to defeat dozens of other harmful measures.
At the bottom of the list, the states with the weakest animal protection laws are Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota, with South Dakota ranking last with a score of eight out of 65. Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota got low marks in part because they are the only four states in the country with no felony penalty for egregious acts of animal cruelty. Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota are also among the 11 states that do not have felony-level penalties for cockfighting. Ohio is expected to move up in the ranking if the state follows through with a series of eight reforms advanced by The HSUS and agricultural groups in the state to deal with cockfighting, puppy mills, exotic pets, and factory farming issues.

The ranking was based on 65 different animal protection issues in 10 major animal protection categories including: animal fighting; animal cruelty; puppy mills; use of animals in research; equine protection; wildlife abuse; factory farming; fur and trapping; exotic animals; and companion animal laws.

quinta-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2020

Dogs may help reduce allergies in children

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center may have found a new way for families to prevent eczema in their children: Adopt a dog.

The researchers studied 636 newborns at risk for developing asthma, allergies, or eczema, and found that children with dog allergies who lived in a house with dogs were far less likely to develop eczema than were allergic children who lived with no dogs. Conversely, children with dog allergies who did not own dogs were four times more likely to develop eczema.

On the other hand, children with cat allergies who lived with cats were more likely to develop eczema than were allergic children who lived in a cat-free house.
While researchers are still looking for a cause of the recent rise in childhood eczema, the study proves that dogs may be an ideal pet for families with allergy-ridden children.

“The number of children with allergic eczema is rising, but the reasons for this are unclear,” says Tolly Epstein, MD, corresponding author of the study and assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “Our research suggests that exposure to dog allergens early in life may actually have a protective effect against developing future allergies among a high-risk population.”

quarta-feira, 12 de fevereiro de 2020

Dogs have bigger brains than cats and why

Over millions of years dogs have developed bigger brains than cats because highly social species of mammals need more brain power than solitary animals, according to a study by Oxford University.
For the first time researchers have attempted to chart the evolutionary history of the brain across different groups of mammals over 60 million years. They have discovered that there are huge variations in how the brains of different groups of mammals have evolved over that time. They also suggest that there is a link between the sociality of mammals and the size of their brains relative to body size, according to a study published in the PNAS journal.

The research team analysed available data on the brain size and body size of more than 500 species of living and fossilised mammals. It found that the brains of monkeys grew the most over time, followed by horses, dolphins, camels and dogs. The study shows that groups of mammals with relatively bigger brains tend to live in stable social groups. The brains of more solitary mammals, such as cats, deer and rhino, grew much more slowly during the same period.

Previous research which has looked at why certain groups of living mammals have bigger brains has relied on studies of distantly-related living mammals. It was widely believed that the growth rate of the brain relative to body size followed a general trend across all groups of mammals. However, this study by Dr Susanne Shultz and Professor Robin Dunbar, from Oxford University’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology (ICEA), overturns this view. They find that there is wide variation in patterns of brain growth across different groups of mammals and they have discovered that not all mammal groups have larger brains, suggesting that social animals needed to think more.

Lead author Dr Susanne Shultz, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow at ICEA, said: ‘This study overturns the long-held belief that brain size has increased across all mammals. Instead, groups of highly social species have undergone much more rapid increases than more solitary species. This suggests that the cooperation and coordination needed for group living can be challenging and over time some mammals have evolved larger brains to be able to cope with the demands of socialising.’

Co-author and Director of ICEA Professor Robin Dunbar said: ‘For the first time, it has been possible to provide a genuine evolutionary time depth to the study of brain evolution. It is interesting to see that even animals that have contact with humans, like cats, have much smaller brains than dogs and horses because of their lack of sociality.’

The research team used available data of the measurements of brain size and body size of each group of living mammals and compared them with similar data for the fossilised remains of mammals of the same lineage. They examined the growth rates of the brain size relative to body size to see if there were any changes in the proportions over time. The growth rates of each mammal group were compared with other mammal groups to see what patterns emerged.

terça-feira, 11 de fevereiro de 2020

Horses - Balancing Your Horse's Diet to Achieve an Ideal Weight

Like people, some horses seem to stay fat off the smell of an empty feed sack, while others can consume enough calories to, well, choke a horse without gaining a pound. Few equine management challenges are more distressing than a "hard keeper" that remains bony regardless of how much he eats. Conversely, horses that are prone to obesity carry significant health risks. Finding the right diet for "special needs" horses doesn’t have to be frustrating and expensive. With the variety of specialty feeds and supplements available, and a basic understanding of the equine digestive system, you should be able to design a feeding program tailor-made to achieve an ideal weight.
James Kerr, DVM, has a thriving equine practice in Santa Rosa, Calif., where he specializes in performance horses. In addition to his practice, Dr. Kerr is also active with the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) both as a competitor and a ride veterinarian. He says he sees more horses that are overweight than underweight. “People love them so much they kill them with kindness,” Dr. Kerr says. "They want to provide for their every need, which translates into lots of rich food and not enough exercise."


At the same time, he also acknowledges that most underweight horses get that way because of poor management, not a finicky metabolism. So before declaring a moratorium on alfalfa hay or breaking out the beet pulp, it helps to understand why your horse has weight issues. Genetics definitely play a role in regulating equine body mass and metabolic rates, but the environment, exercise and overall health also contribute significantly to whether your horse is ribby or rotund.

Hidden Reasons for Hard Keepers


In the case of the underweight horse, "It’s essential to eliminate any hidden health concerns that may be contributing to your horse’s condition," Dr. Kerr says. Illness, parasites, dental problems, gastric ulcers and stress can all contribute to weight loss. Veterinary exams can help rule out diseases that lead to weight loss. Sticking to a regular deworming program will help safeguard against internal parasites. And scheduling an annual dental exam will ensure that your horse is actually eating all the food you serve up, instead of dribbling it out onto the ground or passing it through undigested.
Stress can also contribute to weight loss. If your horse is a chronic stall walker, weaver or fence runner, he is burning calories needlessly, all day long. Simple management changes, such as daily turnout or the addition of a stall buddy, can alleviate these behaviors. Rigorous training schedules also cause residual stress after the workout is over, and can lead to gastric ulcers that put horses off their feed. Don’t forget horses need vacations too. If your horse is getting mentally “cooked” from intensive training, consider giving him a month or two off to relax and regroup. If he acts hungry but doesn’t clean up his feed, or exhibits frequent, mild colic symptoms, you may want to ask your veterinarian to perform a gastric endoscopy to determine whether a stomach ulcer is present.

Risks of Being Overweight


Conversely, obesity carries significant, potentially life threatening consequences. "Laminitis is the number one danger for overweight horses," Dr. Kerr says. "A cresty neck, bubble butt and fat deposits over the withers and shoulders are warning signals that you are teetering on the brink of founder." Kidney and liver disease, as well as glucose intolerance are also risk factors for overweight equines.
If the weight gain is sudden, not related to any changes in feed or exercise, and does not respond to reduced rations, consult your veterinarian. This could be a symptom of a metabolic condition. Proper diet (low starch/low sugar), exercise, and in some cases, medication, can help manage the problem. Also, keep in mind that a potbelly doesn’t necessarily mean weight gain; instead, it could be a sign of some other healthcondition, such as parasite infestation or equine Cushing’s disease.

Basic Feed Needs For All


The principles of achieving and maintaining optimum weight in horses are the same as they are in humans: balancing calories in, calories used and calories stored. Finding the right combination of roughage, protein, fat and carbohydrates takes some experimenting. Calorie-rich feeds that are mostly comprised of carbohydrates and sugar—sweet feeds—can lead to problems such as founder, colic or kidney strain. Too few calories can rob a horse of essential nutrients and cost you a winning performance. Part science and part intuition, a successful feeding program balances calorie input with energy output.
One feed requirement all horses have in common is the need for high-quality forage. "Horses are grazers by instinct," says Sue Garlinghouse, DVM, MS, of Upland, Calif. Dr. Garlinghouse specializes in equine nutrition and has published several research articles on equine physiology. "In a natural setting, horses will graze up to 22 hours per day. So I like to keep something in front of them to munch on all day long, or else they will start to eat the fence posts, the barn and the trees." The key to preventing obesity in the face of an all-day buffet is selecting the best quality hay and the appropriate type.
Horses thrive on hay with a crude protein level of 10 to 12 percent. "Dairy quality" alfalfa can contain as much as 24 percent protein, whereas grass hays and some grain hays can be as low as 6 to 8 percent protein. Combining high- and low-protein hays and adjusting the ratios in response to weight fluctuation is one of the simplest ways to maintain optimum weight.
With a gut evolved for almost non-stop grazing, horses should consume between 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent of their body weight daily in forage. For an average, 1,000 pound adult horse, this means between 15 to 25 pounds of hay per day. Feeding less than this per day can upset the digestive process, lead to nutrition imbalance and increase the chance of colic.


Packing on Pounds Safely

As caloric needs increase with exercise or other physiological demands, the grain bin might seem the logical place to turn to. With 30 to 50 percent more digestible energy per pound than hay, any grain or grain-based feed product provides more calories and energy per mouthful than hay or pasture grass. Corn packs the most energy per pound, followed by barley, then oats. These grains are frequently combined in a mixture with molasses to reduce dust and make them more palatable, which also adds calories in the form of sugar (simple carbohydrates).
So why not simply bump up the grain ration until the weight begins to pile on? According to Dr. Garlinghouse, large amounts of grain can cause side effects ranging from disruptive to deadly.
"Many horses get overly rambunctious on grain," Dr. Garlinghouse says. "If you want them to be able to focus during training and not be jumping out of their skins, large amounts of grain are a problem." More importantly, Dr. Garlinghouse says that studies show the risk of colic increases as grain rations rise. Laminitis, or founder, is also a threat with excessive grain. Additionally, some horses don’t seem to process carbohydrates efficiently, leading to a propensity for metabolic problems that can lead to such conditions as chronic "tying up." Dr. Garlinghouse never recommends feeding more than 3 pounds of grain per feeding, or more than a total of 8 pounds per day. Instead, she says supplements and specialty feeds are a safer way to get more calories into the diet without the health risks associated with feeding a lot of grain.

Feeding for Weight Gain

Hay

Alfalfa hay is often recommended for weight gain. Alfalfa cut at the beginning or end of the growing season is appropriate for horses because of its protein levels. Even when weight gain is the goal, avoid feeding alfalfa hay cut at the height of the growing season because of its high protein levels. (Dr. Kerr suggests not exceeding a 14 percent protein level.)

Complete Feeds

"Complete feeds" refer to any highly digestible processed feed product made from a combination of chopped forage, grain, vitamins and minerals. Underweight horses can often benefit from the addition of a complete feed to the diet.
A good complete feed will be high in fiber and include trace minerals, fats and vitamins. Although billed as nutritionally "complete," Dr. Garlinghouse recommends including at least a low-protein grass hay to give horses something to munch on, thus reducing the risk of colic by keeping the gut active.
Senior feeds are a specialized type of complete feed formulated for older horses. They are typically heat extruded milled grain products, some with higher forage contents than others. They are designed to be more digestible and easier to chew. Because older equines often have trouble holding their weight, particularly in cold winter weather, senior feeds usually have a higher percentage of fats, with a combination of grains, forage, rice bran or stabilized oils.


Fabulous Fats

If after adjusting feed amounts, formulations and exercise your horse still doesn’t achieve the desired weight gain, it may be time to consider a weight-gain supplement. The quickest route to increased weight gain without risky side effects is by adding fat in the form of a top dressing.
"Horses utilize fat much more efficiently than human beings do," Dr. Kerr says. "It is a good source of energy as well as an additive for weight gain." Fat has a number of benefits for the working equine. Not only is it 85 percent digestible, it’s free from carbohydrates, which means it doesn’t contribute to a risk of colic or founder. It produces 30 percent less heat than protein in the metabolic process, and it is an easy way to increase calories without increasing feed volume. Not to mention the glossy coat it produces!
Commercial weight-gain supplements often contain stabilized rice bran or flaxseed products as major ingredients. Both are excellent sources of high-quality fat calories. Stabilized rice bran alone can be fed as a top dressing, but it is extremely high in phosphorus, which creates the possibility of a calcium/phosphorous imbalance unless the diet is carefully modified. Flaxseed meal can also be fed alone. Freshness is the key, and it can be ground at home from whole flaxseeds using an electric coffee grinder. Flaxseed must be ground for horses to benefit; otherwise it passes right through the digestive system.
The most economic way to increase fat calories in the diet is by adding common vegetable oil. One cup of corn or safflower oil contains 240 grams of fat, the equivalent of 1.2 pounds of corn or 1.5 pounds of sweet feed. Thus it can be substituted as part of the daily grain ration. But standard cooking oil does not contain the beneficial fatty acids found in flaxseed oil, and it is important to store properly to avoid rancidity.

Digestive Enzymes

The overall health of a horse’s digestive tract will affect his ability to gain and maintain weight. When digestive enzymes and bacteria don’t function properly, it can interfere with nutrient absorption and utilization. Supplements and complete feeds provide more fats, carbohydrates and vitamins, but "probiotics" and "prebiotics" may help the digestive tract make optimum use of those nutrients.
Probiotics contain yeast fermentation (Lactobacillus) products that may help repopulate the hind gut with good bacteria. These beneficial bacteria aid digestion, helping horses get more nutrition out of what they are eating. While a healthy horse probably has enough gut flora, probiotics can be useful after a bout of diarrhea, rapid feed changes, debilitating disease, gastric ulcers, or following a course of oral antibiotics.
Prebiotics are the newest advancement in equine nutrition. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics don’t contain actual bacteria, but instead contain ingredients that enhance the entire gut’s ability to support bacterial function. They are formulated to increase digestion and absorption by feeding and improving the environment of the good bacteria that reside there.

Tips for Shedding the Pounds

For weight reduction, Dr. Kerr recommends removing all alfalfa and grain from the diet and feeding strictly grass hay, along with gradually increasing daily exercise, until body weight returns to normal. An overweight horse should be consuming mostly low-protein feed. Dr. Kerr’s best advice for the overweight equine is simple: cut back on the calories and increase the exercise. It’s important not to deprive even an obese horse of the minimum required daily amounts of roughage because it can lead to colic (daily forage rations should weigh no less than 1.5 to 2.5 percent of a horse’s body weight).
As for a sensible exercise program for your horse, start by slowly increasing the frequency and duration of your rides. If you are a weekend rider, throw in a couple of mid-week sessions. If you ride for half an hour every day, up your saddle time to an hour or so. If riding isn’t an option, consider longeing at a medium trot until your horse breaks a light sweat, or at least putting him on a hot walker for an hour or so a day. In the wild, horses can typically cover 20 miles per day in search of fresh grass and water. While most riders can’t commit to that much time in the saddle, this serves as a good reference point for what a healthy horse can accommodate under natural conditions.

Long Term Weight Maintenance

Whether your horse is underweight, overweight or just right, it’s important to evaluate his condition through advancing age, environmental changes and performance demands. Addressing unwanted fluctuations before they become potential health risks is the most important aspect of equine weight management.
A balanced approach to a feed regimen that mirrors nature as closely as possible, while incorporating more advanced formulas and targeted nutritional supplements when necessary, will keep your horse not only looking and feeling his best, but also performing up to his optimum potential.

segunda-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2020

Horses - The Tapeworm Threat

Tapeworms were once considered a fairly benign parasite, unassociated with serious problems in equines. But recent studies show tapeworms are anything but harmless. Consider the statistics:



  • 81 percent of ileal impactions (a blockage at the end of the small intestine, commonly referred to as an impaction colic) are associated with tapeworms.
  • 22 percent of spasmodic (gas) colics are tapeworm-related.
  • Ileocecal intussusception (a serious, surgical form of colic where one part of the intestine telescopes into another) is almost always caused by tapeworm infection.
  • On average, more than 54 percent of horses in the United States have been exposed to tapeworms, including 96 percent of horses in the upper Midwest, more than 80 percent of horses in some Southern regions, and 56 percent of horses in the northern Plains and Mountain regions. Even in the lowest-risk areas of the West Coast, at least one out of every 10 horses has tapeworm exposure.


    Why didn’t we know about this before?

    Tapeworms Uncovered
    “Tapeworms are intestinal parasites that infect horses, as well as other species, throughout the world,” explains Brady J. Bergin, DVM, assistant professor, Oregon State University. “They belong to the class of parasites known as cestodes. The three types of tapeworms that can infect horses are Anoplocephala perfoliata, Anoplocephala magna and Paranoplocephala mamillana, with A. perfoliata being by far the most common.”

    Unlike other worms, horse tapeworms need an intermediate host to complete their life cycles. That host, the forage mite, becomes infective by ingesting tapeworm eggs; the horse swallows the infective mites while grazing, and the tapeworms mature in the horse’s intestine within six to 10 weeks. Although much is unknown aboutthe mite’s biology, they’re widespread, living in pastures, lawns and vegetation, says Craig R. Reinemeyer, DVM, Ph.D., immediate past president of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists, and president of East Tennessee Clinical Research Inc., the research group that identified tapeworm prevalence in the United States. The mite also seems to favor temperate climates. “They live in the humus, the organic layer of the soil,” says Robert H. Dressler, DVM, manager of Equine Veterinary Operations at Pfizer Animal Health. “In the arid desert areas of the Southwest, there isn’t a whole lot of humus, and that’s where there is a much lower incidence of tapeworms.”

    Bottom line: Any horse that grazes on pasture is at risk for ingesting infected mites.
    Although studies now demonstrate that tapeworms are everywhere in the United States (albeit in varying numbers), experts had been unaware of their prevalence because of the inability to accurately diagnose tapeworm infection in the horse. “Traditionally, we looked for tapeworm eggs in fecal exams, but that’s been very ineffective,” Dr. Reinemeyer says. “With most other parasites in horses the females stay in the gut and pass out eggs, and the eggs leave the horse in the manure. With tapeworms, the eggs develop in a lower segment of the worm’s body, which separates and passes out in the fecal matter into the environment, but it’s not an ongoing process. The tapeworm body is like a freight train with a bunch of boxcars, one chained to the other. The end of the tapeworm matures faster than the rest of it, so every once in a while the caboose (which is like a bag of eggs) drops off. That bag may not rupture until it gets outside the horse or gets farther down the track, we don’t know.” Consequently, detecting tapeworm eggs in the manure is a hit-or-mostly-miss procedure. And because veterinarians weren’t seeing tapeworm eggs in fecal exams, they assumed there was no tapeworm problem.

    Further, although tapeworms were detected during surgery or postmortem, they weren’t associated with any disease process.

    That all changed in the mid-1990s when a British researcher developed a test that could detect an immune response to a specific protein exuded by tapeworms into the horse’s blood. Although this test only determines exposure to tapeworms as opposed to an active infection (much like horses that have been exposed to equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM, don’t necessarily have the active disease), it was a step in the right direction and enabled researchers to discover just how widespread tapeworms are.

    Since then, researchers learned that tapeworms cause degrees of intestinal damage and disease. Dr. Bergin says, “This damage occurs when large numbers of tapeworms firmly attach to certain areas of the digestive tract, such as the small intestine or, more specifically, the ileocecal junction (the common opening of the ileum, colon and cecum). Their attachment can lead to inflammation, irritation and ulceration at this site, impairing normal function. This intestinal malfunction can also adversely affect the digestive tract, leading to three common types of colic associated with tapeworm infestation: ileocecal intussusception, ileocecal impaction and spasmodic colic.”

    Those are the recognized problems caused by tapeworms. Undetermined are the problems a “typical” or low-grade tapeworm infection causes. “Does it cause low-grade diarrhea, low-grade colic, weight loss?” Dr. Reinemeyer ponders. “We don’t know. But anecdotal evidence suggests tapeworms may cause low-grade colic after intense exercise.”

    Dealing With It
    Even though prevention of tapeworms isn’t truly possible, you can successfully treat these parasites in a horse and prevent the onset of colic and other complications that may be related to tapeworm infection, notes Tom Kennedy, Ph.D., vice president of research and development, Farnam Companies Inc.

    In the past, equine tapeworms were controlled with double or triple doses of pyrantel pamoate. “That did a fairly good job but was not 100 percent effective,” says Kevin Hankins, DVM, field veterinary consultant for Fort Dodge Animal Health. “It was costly plus it was sometimes a nightmare to get two or three tubes of dewormer into a horse.”

    But the recent development of praziquantel in paste and gel formulations for horses offers an affordable, easier, and, to date, more effective alternative. “Praziquantel has been around for a long time, and has been used extensively in dogs and cats,” Dr. Hankins states. “It kills the tapeworms in the horse by destroying the worm’s protective, tough outer layer, thus making the parasite vulnerable to the horse’s immune system, which takes care of it from there.”

    Explains Frank Hurtig, DVM, manager, Veterinary Professional Services at Merial Inc., “The addition of praziquantel to horse parasite control medicines containing macrocyclic lactone drugs (i.e. moxidectin and ivermectin) has been an advance in treatment and control of tapeworms in horses. Praziquantel has a wide margin of safety in horses.” Thus with one dose, praziquantel/macrocyclic lactone formulations offer treatment of tapeworms as well as broad-spectrum activity against strongyles, ascarids, pinworms, bots and other common horse parasites.

    Currently, there are four praziquantel/macrocyclic lactone products available: ComboCare (Farnam), Equimax (Pfizer), Quest Plus (Fort Dodge) and Zimectrin Gold (Merial).

    The only precaution is treating a horse infected with a lot of parasites or one that is clinically ill, Dr. Hankins says. “If they have a very high parasite load, you could end up causing an impaction from all of the parasites killed off in the gut. Also, when parasites die off, they can produce a toxin, and that can make your horse sick. If your horse is already ill or heavily parasitized, his immune system is likely suppressed and would react differently to a normal deworming schedule; that is why dewormers are labeled as only for use in healthy animals.” Some veterinarians treat at-risk horses by either administering a reduced dose and/or administering mineral oil 24 hours prior to deworming to help with the passage of the dead parasites.

    Currently, praziquantel is labeled only for treatment, not prevention. But Dr. Hurtig notes, “Since tapeworms are extremely difficult to definitively diagnose in the live horse, it is best to simply treat for tapeworms on a frequent basis.” This will benefit horses, since using praziquantel products routinely at labeled dosage recommendations removes tapeworms before they become a problem instead of after a problem (i.e. colic) is apparent.

    Work with your veterinarian to develop a program that’s specific for your horse and climate. Dr. Bergin says that there is not a single catch-all recipe for controlling parasites that works for every horse in every area—it’s based on a number of factors that need to be evaluated, and from there your veterinarian can create a plan.

    Although praziquantel is safe, don’t overuse it as parasites likely will build resistance to it. Dr. Reinemeyer explains, “Frequent use of dewormers puts tremendous pressure on the parasites to adapt to survive this continuous onslaught, so they select for resistance. We’re seeing that now with ascarids and ivermectin.”

    Include management techniques in your deworming program. “Good pasture hygiene is a critical management technique for the control of tapeworms as well as other parasites,” Dr. Bergin says. To reduce the spread of parasites, remove manure from stalls daily, dispose of fecal material away from pastures and feed/water supplies, and chain drag or harrow pastures to break up manure piles. Don’t feed your horses directly on the ground; this increases the risk of ingesting forage mites since it is where they typically reside. Avoid overcrowding or overgrazing pastures (rotate if possible). Finally, quarantine all new additions to the herd and perform fecal exams to determine parasite status in general and to avoid the introduction of parasites.

    Down the LineWhile differentiating between tapeworm exposure and an active infection is still a guessing game, researchers hope to soon change that. Stephen Kania, Ph.D., associate professor, University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, has developed a test, with the support of the American Quarter Horse Association, that detects proteins released by the tapeworm parasite into fecal material. “This test differs from antibody detection in that a positive result is likely to indicate an active parasite infection,” Dr. Kania says. “We are currently at the stage of validating the test with samples from a large number of horses.” If all goes well, it’s possible this diagnostic test will be available in two or three years and could be a great aid in advancing knowledge on tapeworm infection.

    Fortunately, you have the tools now to avoid tapeworm problems in your horse. Discuss the risks of infection in your area with your veterinarian and work out a responsible deworming program appropriate for your horse.