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tapeworm Equine tapewormsPhoto kindly provided by University of Liverpool Diagnosteq Lab

Most horses will be exposed to tapeworm . A horse can become infected at any age; however tapeworm tends to have a bigger impact on very young and very old horses as their immune systems are not as robust.

It is impossible to be certain of infection rates due to the difficulty in detecting infection but studies suggest up to 69%1.

Light infection is common and if limited is unlikely to produce any clinical signs.

In more severe infections they may display some of the following clinical signs:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Dull Coat
  • Poor Growth
  • Intermittent Colic Episodes
  • Poor performance
  • General Lethargy
  • Ulceration of the GI lining
  • Colic
  • Obstruction
  • Rupture
  • Anaemia
  • Un-thriftiness

Diagnostics & Treatment of Tapeworm

We know from the tapeworm life cycle that when the tapeworm sheds its eggs they are dispersed in a segment of its body called the proglottid.

If the proglottid remains intact then no eggs will be found in the faeces in spite of the horse being infected. As a result, tapeworm eggs are rarely detected in faecal egg counts (FEC) even if the horse is infected.

As a result, there are two options - assume the horse is infected and treat periodically (Spring and Autumn) or request a tapeworm antibody ELISA test which can be carried out on blood or saliva.

ELISA Antibody Test

The best approach is to carry out a test called an ELISA antibody test. When a horse becomes infected with tapeworm it will produce antibodies to try and protect itself. The ELISA test is capable of detecting these antibodies.

It could previously only be carried out on a blood sample but can now be carried out on saliva making it much more accessible and cost effective. The antibodies persist for months after an infection so a positive result tells us that the horse has been exposed to tapeworm recently. A positive result and a lack of recent tapeworm treatment allows us to assume that the horse is infected.


Ideally, you should carry out an ELISA test before treating for tapeworm to help protect our wormers from resistance.

If you are unable to test you should carry out tapeworm treatment once in the Spring and once in the Autumn.

Which Actives Treat Tapeworms?

IvermectinMoxidectinIvermectin / PraziquantelMoxidectin / Praziquantel

*A double-dose of pyrantel is required to effectively treat tapeworms


Bimeda Equine is proud to promote best practice targeted worming regimes, to help protect both today’s horses and future generations.

To find out more about best targeted worming regimes, visit our Best Practice Advice section.

To view and download our materials, such as our Horse Owner’s Guide To Worming, visit out Library Section.

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Llangefni, Anglesey, Wales LL77 7XA
Phone: +44 (0) 1248 725400