06/12/2010 The Horse Trust Advises Horse Owners to Purchase Wormers Responsibly

Equine welfare charity The Horse Trust is advising horse owners to only purchase wormers from suppliers that provide appropriate veterinary advice.

The Horse Trust has recently become aware that various websites have for sale equine wormers such as moxidectin without providing best practice advice to consumers before purchase.

AMTRA, an independent regulatory body appointed by the UK government, recommends that animal medicines are only prescribed by a vet, veterinary pharmacist, or animal health advisor (known as an SQP) who has passed exams to demonstrate animal health knowledge.
"We are really worried to see that some websites allow people to buy equine wormers without providing veterinary advice," said Jeanette Allen, Chief Executive of The Horse Trust. "We would strongly advise people to avoid purchasing wormers from the internet. Instead contact a vet or SQP to develop a tailored management programme for your horse or horses."

"Many horses have a natural immunity to small redworms so may not need regular treatment with worming drugs. Developing a tailored management programme will reduce the risk of drug resistance in your horse’s worms and could save you money in the long term," added Jeanette.

Last year, The Horse Trust launched a campaign to ask horse owners to take a more informed and strategic approach when worming their horses to tackle the growing problem of drug-resistant worms.

Small redworms (cyathostomins) are the most important parasite affecting horses and other equines. The overuse of worming drugs has to the development of drug-resistant redworms. Researchers have found evidence of small redworm resistance to the three main worming drugs and recent research has detected multi-drug resistant redworms in UK horses¹.

Stephen Dawson, Secretary General at AMTRA, agrees with the need to get good quality advice. “Vets and SQPs have been trained to provide tailored advice for the particular circumstances of each horse. The product you used last time isn’t necessarily the right one for next time," said Stephen.

"Buying from a website which doesn’t provide that vital advice risks increased likelihood of resistance build-up, as well as less effective worm control and thus is bad for animal welfare and for your pocket. And buying, possessing or using wormers which haven’t been properly prescribed is illegal, too,” added Stephen.

Worm resistance expert Professor Jacqui Matthews, of the University of Edinburgh and Moredun Research Institute, strongly supports The Horse Trust's call for horse owners to avoid websites that sell wormer drugs without providing informed advice.

"I am shocked that people can buy equine wormers without being given any information on the appropriate use of these drugs," said Matthews.  ’Drug resistance is a growing problem in equine parasites throughout the world and if we don't take action now, there is a risk that we may see more multi-drug resistant small redworms in the UK .  This has the potential to become a major welfare threat to our horses as there doesn’t seem to be any alternative new products on the horizon in the short term."

For advice on worming your horse, download these guidelines 

¹The research, which was led by Professor Jacqui Matthews, Chair of Veterinary Immunobiology at the University of Edinburgh and Principal Scientist at Moredun Research Institute, is due to be published in the next 6 months.  The Horse Trust, Donkey Sanctuary and the Horserace Betting Levy Board have funded this research.