Why there’s no quick fix for mite infection in horses
Mite infection is a very difficult to control problem in horses, one for which a quick fix does not exist. It’s often assumed that the problem will be resolved after one or two treatments, but that would be virtually impossible. The reason for this is the presence of mite eggs in the horse’s coat. No treatment at all exists that removes these eggs or stops them from hatching. “This treatment isn’t working” is a common complaint. But is it really that the treatment doesn’t work, or instead that the approach is wrong?
No way to get rid of mite eggs
At this time, no effective treatment or method exists for getting rid of all mite eggs in the horse’s coat. Every treatment, whether internal or external, only affects the mites themselves. While mite eggs typically hatch within three weeks, weather conditions may cause hatching to be delayed until much later. An effective approach requires continuing treatment until the very last egg has hatched. Otherwise, the problem will just keep repeating itself. The larger the mite infection, the longer that treatment is required. This could be for a single mite season, or could take over a year.
No clear duration of treatment
Mite eggs in the coat of a horse are almost visible with the naked eye, especially if there aren’t that many yet. This makes it even more difficult to determine the duration of treatment required. It is often too quickly assumed that the problem has been remedied, resulting in the treatment being prematurely stopped. The eggs that at that time still have to hatch will subsequently have free reign. That’s why you see many horse owners do preventative treatments at the beginning of every mite season, in order to keep the population down. This is definitely recommended, especially when a horse has had mites the previous year.
Approach for mite infection in horses
On average, it takes about a year and a half before a mite infection is completely eliminated. An effective treatment plan is not just about using a particular product, but instead involves a number of different components/aspects:
1 – Begin treatment as soon as possible
Mites propagate extremely rapidly. The longer you wait, the bigger the population will get. It’s important therefore to not wait too long to start treatment.
2 – Don’t expect the mite infection to be gone after a month
Whatever treatment you use, assume from the outset that it will take some time before you see results, especially if the population is large. Do not stop treatment once the problem appears to be resolved, as there may still be mite eggs remaining in the coat.
3 – Use a natural product
Mites can develop resistance against chemical control products. Sometimes after two consecutive treatments, the next treatment has no effect anymore, indicating that it’s likely that the mites have developed resistance. This is impossible, however, when natural products like Finecto+ Horse are used.
4 – Don’t forget about ‘carrier’ horses
Mites are highly contagious, with multiple horses often being infected at the same time. But not all the horses will show symptoms, though. When only the horse showing symptoms is treated, the mites keep coming back by way of the untreated horses. Treatment is therefore only effective if all the horses are treated.
5 – Ensure optimum health
Horses that are susceptible to mites often already have a lowered immune function. Such horses will more readily show itching symptoms since the body simply is less effectively able to deal with the bites from mites. Make sure to optimise the horse’s resistance by giving the horse a detox treatment in the spring and autumn. Furthermore, good health is based on good digestion in horses.
6 – Do yearly preventative treatments
If your horse has had mites in the past, make sure to do a preventative treatment every year at the beginning of the season. This way you’ll ensure that the population remains low when there are still mite eggs from last year in the horse’s coat or in the environment.
7 – Don’t forget about the environment
Mites can survive for up to three weeks in the immediate environment of horses, living for example in the brushes, saddle pads and blankets. Make sure to wash these items regularly and that each horse is designated its own set of brushes, saddle pads and blankets.
8 – Keep an eye on sugar content in the feed
Mites love sugars. Restricting sugars in coarse feed and concentrates is one of the first measures to implement for a horse with a mite allergy.
A ‘quick fix’ for a mite infection doesn’t exist, since there are no methods or treatments at all that control hatching of mite eggs. Given that mite eggs can survive for a few weeks, sometimes in the right conditions even for years, the approach must be based on targeting the mite eggs. Do not expect a mite infection to be under control after a month. Implement as many of the previously mentioned measures in order to get the mite infection under control as quickly as possible. The more mites, the longer it will take, so make sure to not wait too long to start treatment.
It is important to realise that prevention is better than treatment after the fact. If your horse had mites last year, then there’s a good chance that there are still eggs in its coat. Ensure that the mites that have just hatched cannot multiply by giving your horses a detox treatment in September and a preventative treatment with Finecto+ Horse at the beginning of the season (October/November).