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If you own dogs and horses, you may know that lots of horse wormers are very dangerous to dogs. I always make sure not to bring my dogs up the yard for at least a few days after the horses have been wormed as I know how dangerous it can be. White the biggest risk is the dogs coming into contact with the wormer itself, they can still ingest it through the poo of a recently wormed horse. It can cause seizures, comas and death.
I recently saw an interesting post on Facebook where a vet had commented that horse owners know not to ride their horses off their property after worming. This was completely new to me. While it does make sense, especially when I take precautions with my own dogs, I have never heard of this.
We all know that even the best-behaved dog will probably sneak a few bites of horse poo while they are out of reach of their owners. I also don’t think that dog owners should have to keep their dogs on the lead in public places just because horse owners don’t pick up horse poo. (We shouldn’t have to and it just isn’t convenient to do.) But it does raise the issue of we are putting dogs and other small animals at risk if we decide to hack our horses out.
It’s also important to mention that dogs can come into contact with horse poo in other places too. We have public footpaths through a few of our fields. So even if you clear your field of poo every day, because you can’t follow your horse around all day with a wheelbarrow, there is still a chance a dog could have a nibble while walking through. The only real solution to completely stop the risk would be to keep the horses in the stables for a few days. Which isn’t practical or particularly good for the horses.
I do think maybe we should be a bit more aware of what we do with our horses after worming. I’m not saying we should completely change how we manage our horses just because there is a small chance dogs could become sick after eating horse poo. But I do think there are small changes we can make.
If you have a public footpath going through your fields, maybe a sign on the gates after worming letting dog owners know that the poo might be harmful to their dogs. Afterall, most dog walkers are good at keeping their dogs on the lead while there are horses in there. But if the horses come in overnight, lots of walkers will let their dogs off. You could also think about not hacking for a few days after worming, or maybe choosing routes where dogs are less likely to be off the lead and able to eat poo.
There doesn’t seem to be any requirement from us horse owners to do any of this. But during a time where we seem to get enough stick from the rest of the countryside users, it can only be a good thing to think of ways to make things more enjoyable for everyone.