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Why Don’t Horses Get Fleas? What about Ticks, Lice, or Mites?

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Horses, like most mammals, are covered in hair. But unlike dogs and cats, they don’t have a lot of fleas. There are a number of theories about why this might be the case.

Horses don’t often get fleas because these parasites typically attack animals that live in nests, tunnels, caves, or dens. In simple words, fleas attack animals that spend their downtime lying in bedding. Horses don’t provide the best environment for these pests to survive.  

Some horse owners don’t believe horses get fleas, but that’s incorrect. It’s rare, but horses can get fleas. A good bath with flea shampoo can help remedy the problem.

I’ve recently found a site that sells horsefly sprays, dewormers, shampoos, and other products at reasonable prices; click here to check it out.

Picture of a horse eating from a hay bag.

Can horses get fleas?

We always keep cats in our horse barns to keep the mice under control; it’s practical and effective; however, cats also bring fleas into the barn. To reduce the infestation of pests, the barn is routinely sprayed for pests, But on occasion, we find fleas on our horses.

Horses ridden in pastures with high grass have the propensity to pick up fleas; this is why grooming your horse after a ride is essential. But most of the time, when fleas attach to a horse, they quickly jump off to find a more suitable furry four-legged host. 

Fleas are tiny creatures that are hard to see but pack a big bite. Because they are parasites, they prey on hosts, and their best hosts are cats, dogs, foxes, or any other four-legged furry animal.

When horses are infected with fleas, they develop patches of raw skin. The irritation and itching on a horse are so intense they rub their bodies against posts, trees, or anything else they can to provide relief. This action scrapes the hair off the horse’s coat and exposes its damaged skin.

Horses are among the best animals anyone can have, but people are usually unaware of how to properly take care of their health. If they are cleaned and treated correctly, your horse is less likely to get fleas. 

picture of a flea and cat, horses, fleas,

Are fleas species-specific?

Fleas are species-specific, but they can and do transfer hosts. Cat fleas are different than dog fleas, but either will bite a human or a horse. It is scarce that a horse may get fleas from other animals like cats or chickens. But sometimes, exceptions may occur.

The fleas can travel on the back of the horse but never reside on them because they don’t use horses as a host. If you have a lot of different animals like cats, dogs, chickens, and horses housed near each other, there is a high likelihood your horse will get fleas from them.

Also, the chances of getting fleas from other animals depend upon your horse’s health condition. If you take proper care of your horse’s hygiene and clean it regularly, then there is less or no chance that your horse will get fleas from other animals.

But he will get fleas if you don’t take good care of your horse. Unhealthy and unkempt horses are more susceptible to getting fleas than healthy, well-groomed animals.

If somehow your horse does get fleas and you want to get rid of them, the best thing you can do is wash your horse with flea shampoo. Amazon offers a few different brands, and I haven’t found that one is more effective than the others; they all work well.

The most important consideration is to wash your horse thoroughly, work the shampoo over the horse’s entire coat, pay particular attention to the area you noticed the fleas, and also work the shampoo into the horse’s mane and tail.

Follow the directions on the bottle, rinse the soap, and then brush your horse and comb out its forelock, mane, and tail to remove the fleas.

Picture of a horse with a skin rash possibly caused by dust mites.

Can a horse get mites, lice, or ticks?

Since horses are hairy animals and usually wander around in fields, the chances are very high that they may get external parasites like mites, lice, or ticks.  We’ve had a rash spread through our barn recently and believe it’s caused by dust mites.

All these parasites are bloodsuckers, so they can create serious health problems like anemia and many other diseases. Ticks, in particular, are known transmitters of equine piroplasmosis, an infectious, tick‐borne blood disease that affects equines worldwide.

All these parasites are bloodsuckers, so they can create serious health problems like anemia and many other diseases. Ticks, in particular, are known transmitters of equine piroplasmosis, an infectious, tick‐borne blood disease that affects equines worldwide.

These parasites also cause open wounds in the horse’s skin, which makes them susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. These parasites complete their life cycle on the horse, and they are more active during the colder season of the year and cause itching and inflammation on the surface of the horse’s skin.

The best way to treat your animal is to take preventive measures, but if somehow they get infected by these parasites, first remove the source from where the horses are getting it and then start treating your horse. 

Since they are parasites, they will not go away on their own, so you need to opt for some strategy to remove them from your beloved animal. The best prevention is regular grooming and combing out their mane and tail.

Picture of an underweight two-year old horse.
A horse we rescued.

Conclusion

Horses are one of the most loyal and beloved animals. They serve you throughout their lives. And in return, they only need your love, affection, and proper care.

The best way to show your appreciation to them is to keep them clean. Wash them regularly with soap and water, and comb them to keep them safe against fleas, mites, lice, or ticks. 

These are small creatures but can cause severe problems for horses and can even lead to death. Although they are not the cause of acute disease, they only cause itching and inflammation. But due to itching, the skin gets susceptible and becomes the cause of several secondary bacterial infections that could be life-threatening. 

So, if you love your horse, start caring for them now, so they don’t get affected by these parasites. Because most horses spend much of their time outside, they are susceptible to being affected by small lice, fleas, ticks, or mites. 

Horses don’t get fleas as long as you properly take of them. If they receive adequate care, diet, and vaccination, they should never get parasites. 

Below is a YouTube video about horses and ticks.

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