As we head further into what has already been a glorious summer, there should be plenty of opportunities to head out on an adventure with your horse. This time of year also means that there could be a whole host of different dangers that could affect your four-legged friend. One of these potential horse health hazards to keep an eye on could be bots. At The Insurance Emporium, we’re keen to help your steed stay healthy this summer! That’s why we asked our horse health expert for some advice on the risks of bots.
What is a botfly?
The bot fly, also known as gasterophilus, is a brown and hairy insect, similar in appearance to the bumblebee. They are known to buzz loudly and often scare horses as a result. The female bot fly will target horses in order to lay her eggs. She’ll usually try to lay these eggs on the nose, legs and muzzle, amongst other areas. The flies are more common in certain areas of the country and are most typically seen during August and September.
What are the signs?
The tiny yellow eggs are relatively easy to spot and often appear in clumps on the forelimbs. You might notice your horse licking their stomach and legs more frequently, as well as rubbing their face or biting objects to relieve the irritation caused in the mouth. The larvae find their way into the horse’s mouth through this rubbing and burrow into the tongue, lips or gums.
How can this harm your horse?
The larvae remain dormant in the horse’s mouth for around a month before moving to the stomach, where they develop in size and attach themselves to the lining of the stomach or small intestine. Bots can remain in the horse’s intestinal tract for up to ten months, eventually passing in droppings before hatching. If they’re left untreated they can cause ulcers in the mouth and stomach, weight loss and colic.
How to prevent it?
Measures should be taken to minimise your horse’s contact with bot flies and their eggs. Using fly rugs and repellents could be a good place to start. Removing the eggs from your horse is also important, they can be tricky to get off so using a bot knife might be advisable. Using a wormer, such as ivermectin or moxidectin, might also be extremely effective against bots. It’s recommended to routinely treat horses for bots after the first frost.
Nobody wants to have to deal with bot flies and the issues caused by their eggs, so knowing the risks could be vital when it comes to minimising the risk of a bot fly infection. Whether it’s taking steps to stop an initial problem, knowing how to quickly spot the symptoms or choosing the right action to take, being vigilant could make a big difference for you and your horse!
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