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Diagnostic
Tests or procedures used by your vet to determine what is wrong with your horse, in order to reach a diagnosis.

Cost: Under $100

These cost ranges are approximate and may vary from region to region.
Additional charges may also apply.

YOUR VET MAY PERFORM

Fecal Exam for Parasites, Egg Count

Cost: Under $100

These cost ranges are approximate and may vary from region to region.
Additional charges may also apply.

Summary

Adult intestinal parasites shed eggs into the equine intestine, which appear in a horse's manure. These eggs develop into larvae in the manure and are ingested again, where they complete their life cycle within the horse.

Fecal examination for parasites helps quantify the worm load a give horse has by counting the number of eggs per unit manure.

A second test, known as a fecal egg count reduction test (FECRT), is performed 2 weeks after worming and tests the effectiveness of the worming compound against the parasites.

Your role is to properly collect, label and submit manure samples to your vet. Manure samples must be fresh, packaged in a plastic bag with the air pushed out of it, and stored in a refrigerator for no more than 12 hours before submission to your vet.

There are a number of different methods for performing the examination but the basic concept is this: most parasite eggs will float when mixed into a concentrated salt solution. Manure is mixed with such a solution, causing the eggs to float to the top. They are collected from the film on top of the liquid, and using a microscope, they are identified and counted.

This diagnostic can be performed at any time of the year, however it must be at least 8 weeks after last deworming, and 12 weeks after deworming with moxidectin (Quest) products.

A reasonable approach is to schedule this testing between your chosen worming times. For example, if you deworm your horse(s) in March and November, a mid summer fecal examination would help determine the need for a third de-worming during the summer.

Why A Vet Chooses This Diagnostic

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Related Observations

Your vet might choose this diagnostic test if you were making these observations.

Very Common
Less Common
Rare
more observations
BENEFITS
Fecal Egg Counts gives a rough estimation of the parasite load.

It is an easy and inexpensive test to perform, and is often performed in-clinic allowing for rapid results.

LIMITATIONS

Certain types of parasites are not detected with this test and require more specialized tests to detect.

Parasites may not shed eggs consistently, and so may be missed during an exam.

your role

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Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • Does the fact that the exam was negative mean that the horse has no parasites?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP