Tick diseases in horses

Quick facts

Ticks can transfer many disease-causing organisms to horses. Minnesota horse owners should be aware of two of the most common tick diseases:

  • Anaplasmosis

  • Lyme disease

Anaplasmosis

Anaplasmosis is the most common tick-transferred disease to cause illness in horses. Humans and other animal species, including dogs and livestock can get a similar illness from ticks.

Deer ticks commonly transfer the bacteria from small mammals (deer mice and woodrats).

 | 

Lyme disease

Borrelia burgdorferi is the organism that causes Lyme disease and is a much less frequent source of illness in horses. Tick bites expose horses to this organism. Few horses develop clinical illness, usually months after the bite.

 | 

Preventing tick disease

There are no vaccines available for anaplasmosis or Lyme disease, but there are prevention steps you can take.

  • Remove and destroy ticks as soon as possible.

  • Check horses for early signs of illness.

  • Reduce tick habitat near horses.

    • Clear brush out of pastures and along both sides of the fence line.

    • Keep pastures mowed.

  • Use a topical insecticide that includes a label claim for ticks.

    • Apply it to your horse before riding through long grass or brush.

Julie Wilson, former University of Minnesota DVM

Share this page:

© 2018 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.