Natural Treatment for Pinworms

Updated July 19, 2017

Pinworms are not the most dangerous equine parasite, but they do cause severe itching which can be unpleasant for your horse. The constant rubbing can result in irritated, broken skin that can become infected. Pinworms are more common in horses kept on limited, crowded acreage. Treat pinworms naturally and give your horse the welcome relief of an itch-free butt.

Life Cycle

Pinworms are an annoying horse worm that causes intense anal itching. If your horse is rubbing his butt and you see broken hairs around the tail area, he may have pinworms. Horses contract pinworms from contaminated grain, hay, water or grass. Immature worms live in the large intestine for approximately three to four months then, when mature, crawl out the anus and lay their eggs. The eggs fall to the ground, hatch and wait for a new host.


Pinworms are diagnosed by symptoms (tail rubbing and intense itching) and by the tape test; your veterinarian may use a piece of sticky tape to capture samples. Pinworms tend to travel by night, so perform this test as early as possible in the morning. Simply press a piece of sticky tape around your horse's anus. The results can be viewed under a microscope for accurate diagnosis.

Clean Up

Pinworms spread quickly in contaminated spaces. If any horse in your herd or boarding stable has pinworms, there's a good chance your horse does, too. Scrub down the stall walls and replace all bedding. Treat all of your horses for pinworms if you suspect an infestation. If your horse is kept at a boarding facility, inform your neighbours and suggest that they follow a program of natural deworming and stall hygiene.


Oils can suffocate pinworm larvae. Many horse owners have used mineral or baby oil to treat pinworms, but there are better choices. Consider olive oil as an alternative---it is a safe, non-toxic oil that works well. Tea tree oil is an excellent antiviral and neem oil has insecticidal qualities. Calendula oil is very soothing and can be used regularly. These oils can be mixed according to your preferences or used singly. Wipe the dock and tail area, coating thoroughly with oil. Repeat twice a day.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth, the powdered, fossilised shells of algae, are an excellent all-around insecticide. Shaken around the stall area, the microscopically sharp crystals lacerate and dehydrate eggs and worms. It can also be taken internally as a dewormer. It works mechanically (by lacerating the worms) rather than chemically, so there is no risk of the drug resistance problems that are appearing in many chemical dewormers.


Pinworms are a relatively harmless equine parasite. Although the itching can be excruciating, horses can carry a very large load of pinworms without any serious side effects. For the comfort of your horse, however, pinworms should be treated. Irritation, broken hairs and possible skin infections can result if your horse rubs on a rough surface. Add a few splinters to the mix, and you will have a very unhappy horse.


Horses acquire pinworms through contaminated food, water or bedding. Do not place your water buckets too close to hay or grain feeders. If you're finding a lot of excess hay or grain in the buckets, they're too close. Use elevated feeders when providing hay or grain---this prevents ground-dwelling parasites from contacting the feed. Keep stalls and pastures as tidy as possible; clean stalls daily and pick manure up regularly---at least twice a week.

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