Equine parasite control under prescription-only conditions in Denmark - Awareness, knowledge, perception, and strategies applied

M. K. Nielsen, M. Reist, R. M. Kaplan, K. Pfister, D. C.K. van Doorn, A. Becher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Due to widespread development of anthelmintic resistance in equine parasites, recommendations for their control are currently undergoing marked changes with a shift of emphasis toward more coprological surveillance and reduced treatment intensity. Denmark was the first nation to introduce prescription-only restrictions of anthelmintic drugs in 1999, but other European countries have implemented similar legislations over recent years. A questionnaire survey was performed in 2008 among Danish horse owners to provide a current status of practices and perceptions with relation to parasite control. Questions aimed at describing the current use of coprological surveillance and resulting anthelmintic treatment intensities, evaluating knowledge and perceptions about the importance of various attributes of parasite control, and assessing respondents' willingness to pay for advice and parasite surveillance services from their veterinarians. A total of 1060 respondents completed the questionnaire. A large majority of respondents (71.9%) were familiar with the concept of selective therapy. Results illustrated that the respondents' self-evaluation of their knowledge about parasites and their control associated significantly with their level of interest in the topic and their type of education (P < 0.0001). The large majority of respondents either dewormed their horses twice a year and/or performed two fecal egg counts per horse per year. This approach was almost equally pronounced in foals, horses aged 1-3 years old, and adult horses. The respondents rated prevention of parasitic disease and prevention of drug resistance as the most important attributes, while cost and frequent fecal testing were rated least important. Respondents' actual spending on parasite control per horse in the previous year correlated significantly with the amount they declared themselves willing to spend (P < 0.0001). However, 44.4% declared themselves willing to pay more than what they were spending. Altogether, results indicate that respondents were generally familiar with equine parasites and the concept of selective therapy, although there was some confusion over the terms small and large strongyles. They used a large degree of fecal surveillance in all age groups, with a majority of respondents sampling and/or treating around twice a year. Finally, respondents appeared willing to spend money on parasite control for their horses. It is of concern that the survey suggested that foals and young horses are treated in a manner very similar to adult horses, which is against current recommendations. Thus, the survey illustrates the importance of clear communication of guidelines for equine parasite control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 30 2014


  • Denmark
  • Horse
  • Parasite control
  • Questionnaire
  • Selective therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary


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