What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Tiny Insects, Lice or Mites Visible on Horse


Occasionally, you might notice strange insects, mites or lice on your horse. You may not be sure what they are, or whether they are of importance.

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your role


What To Do

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and share your findings with your vet. Specifically, consider whether you notice other signs of illness or abnormalities such as itchiness, hair loss, blood spots or irritation of any kind.

Try to determine the number of bugs and their distribution on the horse. How many are there and where are they located? What do they look like?

If possible, wearing gloves, collect a few in a small glass jar or bottle to show your vet. Alternatively, take a photo of the bugs and/or the affected area and share it with your vet for discussion.

your vet's role

Vets should be able to identify the offending insect. Identification will guide the need for concern and treatment. Depending on the type of insect, your vet may recommend that you spray your horse with a conventional fly spray or other treatments.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you know of any other health problems the horse has experienced?
  • Does the horse's general health seem good to you otherwise?
  • Are you seeing itchiness (rubbing or scratching)?
  • Where specifically is the hair loss?
  • Do you notice hair loss or other evidence of direct trauma?
  • Where, specifically are the parasites located on the horse?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • What treatments have you tried and how did they work?
  • Do the parasites seem to be sucking blood?
  • Are other horses affected?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP