Is Your Horse Just Itchy? Or Could It Be Pinworm?

Is he just itchy or could your horse have pinworm. pony rubbing tail
While rubbing their bottoms and tails on fences, gates, doors, trees, walls etc. is normal behaviour for a horse. If you find your horse rubs a lot the cause may be more sinister than just needing to itch! It could be pinworm.
This post will help you to set your mind at ease. Help you discover if your horse has pinworm. And talk you through how to treat pinworm. So your horse no longer has a tail it looks like a toilet brush or is rubbing himself raw!
Now there are other reasons too for tail rubbing, such as:
• allergies,
• lice,
• sweet itch,
• vices, etc.
So do make sure you investigate all these causes.
Starting with checking for pinworm is a good first step because it is easy and cheap to do.

What is Pinworm

 Pinworm (Oxyuris Equi) are white and up to 15cm long.
They live mostly in a horse’s right dorsal colon.
The worms themselves are not the causes of the rubbing. It’s the female pinworms who lay their eggs around the horses’ anus, which causes the irritation. This then leads to the female worms dying off and passed out in the droppings.
In 3-5 days the eggs become infectious.

Symptoms of Pinworm 

  • Tail itching
  • Sticky off-white mucus around the anus of the horse/pony 
  • Colic 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • General depression
Yet many horses suffering, may not show signs of infestation. It is easy for pinworm infestation to go unnoticed.

Is pinworm bad for my horse?

Pinworm doesn’t damage your horse’s digestive system, unlike tapeworm and redworm. But infection does irritate the horse. Causing rubbing of the tail which if excessive can break the skin and cause infections etc.

Can you see pinworm in the poo?

Pinworm are actually one of the most commonly seen worms in horse droppings. This is because they do not live in the digestive tract. Once the females lay their eggs, they die and come out in the droppings. Pinworms look like bean sprouts, in the droppings and are very easy to recognise.

How to find out if your horse has pinworm

Testing for pinworm is very simple.
  1. In the morning (as pinworms are most active at night) take the sticky tape in the kit. Press it firmly onto the horse’s skin around his anus. Take care to avoid his hair.
  2. Fold the tape so it sticks, sticky side to sticky side.
  3. Put your sample in your return envelope
  4. Ensure your details are written on the card and enclosed with the sample
  5. Post
We will inform you of the result as soon as we know

How to Treat Pinworm

Should your horse have pinworm then you need to treat to eradicate the infection.
Often after treatment, there are reports of the reappearance of eggs.

Our advice is to:

1 – Start good stable hygiene, Disinfect all surfaces your horse may rub on.
2 – Make sure you keep the horses anus clean, wipe with a disposable cloth every morning and night. You may find that applying vaseline around the anus, will help to prevent the eggs laid there from sticking to the skin.
3 – Treat with a 5 day course of fenbendazole (Panacur 5 day guard) or a double dose of pyrantel (Strongid p)
4 – Retest in a few months time to see if you have been successful.

Other advice

I had a conversation with my Vet Dr David Platt, recently about how tricky pinworm is to treat. He gave me this advice, (and agreed that I can share with my clients too!).
However, should you wish to try this please be aware that is being used off licence under the cascade scheme as Strongid P is only licensed to be given orally.
I have not tried this treatment and cannot vouch for its effectiveness. But I share on the hopes that if you have tried everything and still have a pinworm problem this may work for you.
My vet suggested using Strongid P Paste mixed with aqueous cream, around the anus. Apply last thing at night and first thing in the morning for 2-3 weeks. Apparently, this has been able to eradicate pinworm in a few cases! As it seems to be effective in killing of the egg-laying females.
If you do try this treatment please let me know if it worked for you.

Do you know anyone who is struggling to treat pinworm?

We hope this blog has been useful please share
Because symptoms such as bottom rubbing and itching are normal for horses. Very often pinworm it is not detected by owners and it is easily spread.
If you think your horse may have pinworm you can buy a test here:


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All the information on this website – – is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Equine Faecal Egg Count Solutions does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (Equine Faecal Egg Count Solutions), is strictly at your own risk. Equine Faecal Egg Count Solutions will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website. 

Please seek advice for your horse from your vet or SQP before treating your horse.

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