Tick Repellent for Horses: What Products Really Work?
There are several options for tick prevention in horses. Read on to learn what’s safe and what works!
We all know they’re gross, they carry diseases, and they cause inflammation at the site of attachment. But what can we do to keep them off our horses? The products we use for dogs just aren’t practical for horses (in most cases!) and the products we use on ourselves don’t last long enough for animals that live outside. So what are our options? Well we have a few!
There are five equine tick control options most often recommended by veterinarians. I’ve summarized them in the table below:
Permectrin CDS: This product is labeled for horses and has our current vote due to its low cost and very few reported reactions. A typical horse receives about 16 – 18 ml, split as a line down the crest of the neck, a line down the back, a line down each ear or under the forelock, and line down each cannon bone. Though reactions are rare, it’s a good idea to try a small “test spot” a day or two before doing the full application, and avoid white areas of the horse.
Ultraboss: This is a very similar product to Permectrin CDS and is also labeled for horses. The application instructions are basically the same, but it seems that more people have reported site reactions (anything from scalding to the appearance of a tickling or burning sensation).
Frontline Spray: This is a commonly used product for dogs, and many people have used frontline spray on horses. It’s not labeled for horses, but seems to be safe based on anecdotal reports. Common directions for using this product on horses is to spray the legs, belly, tailhead and forelock every 1-3 weeks. In our area, it seems that many ticks have developed resistance to fipronil, the ingredient in frontline, so this product may not be as effective as a pyrethrin-based product.
Equispot: This is another permethrin-based product, sold in packages of 3 tubes and labeled for horses. Application instructions are to split a tube between the back, forehead and legs every two weeks. Some people have reported scalding or site reactions, so it’s a good idea to do a test-spot, like any of the products!
Vectra 3D: This is another product for dogs, that has been used on horses. Its not labeled for horses, but does seem to be safe. You have to use three of the “large dog” size tubes for a horse, so this gets pretty expensive! It’s nice that it only has to be applied every 30 days instead of every 2 weeks, and is probably a good thing to try if the other products don’t work for you or your horse.
In addition to controlling ticks, the pyrethrins and Vectra 3D may also help repel mosquitoes! Since we live in an area endemic for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, any reduction in mosquitoes on your horse is a great thing too!