Do Horses Get Fleas?
A horse is not a very favorite host for fleas due to certain reasons. However, the possibility of getting a couple of fleas from its environment is there. While grazing in the long grass or interacting with companion animals likes dog, cats or chicken, there are good chances for horses to meet fleas. But can they be problematic for your horse? Certainly, not. Fleas could not be much problematic for a healthy horse because the lifestyle of a horse does not provide favorable conditions to a family of fleas.
Here we will discuss fleas, their effect on horses, and how we can prevent our horses from fleas.
What are fleas?
Flea (Siphonaptera) belongs to the insect family. This tiny creature (smaller than a millet grain) lives as an ectoparasite of different species like dogs and cats. Fleas feed on the blood of their host and produce numerous eggs to increase their number. Unlike many parasites, they lack wings but can jump like a sprinter due to their long legs.
Fleas are specie-specific. It means dogs have different types of fleas as compare to a cat. And fleas that use a cat as their host don’t produce their eggs on dogs. Luckily, there are not any specific fleas for horses. So a flea can ride a horse temporarily and transfer to another suitable host.
Some people inter-mix the terms like fleas, lice, mites, and ticks. Actually, these are different species of insects. All of these live as ectoparasites on a variety of animals, however, mites can cause severe itching, and raw skin and ticks can transmit the disease in horses too.
Why horses don’t get fleas, reasons?
Horses are resistant to fleas due to some good reasons. The first reason is the incompatibility between the lifestyle of a horse and a flea. A favorable host for a flea is that who lives in tunnels, caves, dens, and nest and spend most of their time lying in the bedding. A hot and humid environment is a plus. As we know horses are not usually “couch potatoes” and they spend most of their time moving or working. So it’s very difficult for a flea to survive on a horse for a long time.
Have you ever noticed the difference between the hair coat of a dog and a horse? Most dog breeds have soft fur while the hairs of a horse are usually smooth and straight. It can also be another reason to avoid a flea sticking in the horse haircoat,
Thirdly, there is not any specific horse flea. It means a horse may get fleas from a barn dog or cat. But that flea can’t reproduce on a horse.
How to prevent a horse from fleas?
There is very little probability that fleas can be a health risk for your horse. However, if are anxious about these parasites, you can take these preventive measures to avoid them.
Checking the barn dogs, cats, and chickens for fleas is recommended because they are the major source of fleas for horses.
Fly repellents can also be used as preventive measures. Most of the fly repellents also prevent animals from fleas and other insects.
Keep the immunity of your horse high. Immune boosters can be used for this purpose. Check for vitamin E and selenium in your horse diet. These are good immune boosters.
Always take the advice of your veterinarian before using any drug or supplement.