The time for spring shots has come. Some question the need for vaccinations. Fortunately, there’s ample information (and research!) available to explain why we vaccinate horses the way we do. Here’s a quick rundown:
As the days get longer and there’s more time to spend in the saddle, it’s also time to help protect horses against common diseases. The peace of mind that comes from protection is well worth the small investment.
“Everyone knows horses are a significant investment of time, resources and emotional energy,” says John Tuttle, DVM, Director, Equine Professional Services, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health. “But we all know how much joy horses bring to us, so they are well worth it! A small investment in your veterinarian’s recommended vaccine protocol can save potential heartache in the future,” he says.
Ideally, vaccinations should be scheduled before mosquitoes become prevalent and prior to any travel. Here’s what you can expect when your veterinarian comes for the appointment.
Core vs. Risk-Based Vaccinations
Your veterinarian will first do an overall health assessment. Then, he or she most likely adheres to The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommendations and will administer vaccinations to help protect against the following:
- Eastern & Western Equine Encephalomyelitis – EEE and WEE cause significant brain and spinal cord swelling. While vaccination has reduced the incidence of cases, vaccination is still considered a core recommendation, along with mosquito control, for all horses because of the high mortality rate associated with these two diseases.1
- Rabies – 100% fatal in horses, rabies can be protected against with the administration of a very cost-effective vaccine. Bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes, all animals whose habitats are similar to where barns are located, are the most common carriers.2
- Tetanus – Often fatal, tetanus is caused by Clostridium tetani, an organism found in the feces of horses and other animals, as well as in the soil where those animals are housed. Because spores of Cl. tetanican live for years, horses and people are always at risk for contracting tetanus through puncture wounds.3
- West Nile Virus – With 71 cases in 19 states in 20204, West Nile Virus still poses a threat to the equine population. Mortality occurs in approximately 33 percent of infected horses and up to 40 percent of those infected with WNV remain clinically affected up to six months after the original diagnosis.4
In addition to vaccinating for these core diseases, your veterinarian will also evaluate your horse’s risk of exposure to other diseases such as Equine Influenza, Potomac Horse Fever and Strangles.
Typically, horses show minimal if any signs of discomfort following vaccination. However, some horses may experience low-grade fever, decreased appetite, fatigue or decreased energy and tenderness at the injection site. These are usually mild and pass quickly. However, if they worsen or linger over a period of days, contact your veterinarian.
To help ensure your horse’s comfort following vaccination, take the following steps:
- Controlled exercise following vaccination to help reduce stiffness (after 24 hours)
- Minimize strenuous activity for a few days following vaccination to allow for the best immune response
- Topical hydro or cold therapy at the injection site if tenderness occurs
As always, partner with your veterinarian for his or her recommendations, as their familiarity with your horse and its unique health history will help to optimize your horse’s vaccination experience.
For more information about vaccines and other equine health care protocols, visit https://bi-animalhealth.com/.
1Core Vaccination Guidelines. Eastern & Western Equine Encephalomyelitis. American Association of Equine Practitioners. https://aaep.org/guidelines/vaccination-guidelines/core-vaccination-guidelines/easternwestern-equine-encephalomyelitis
2What animals get rabies? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/animals/index.html.
3Core Vaccination Guidelines. Tetanus. American Association of Equine Practitioners. https://aaep.org/guidelines/vaccination-guidelines/core-vaccination-guidelines/easternwestern-equine-encephalomyelitis.
4United States Department of Agriculture. 2020 Summary of West Nile Virus Equine Cases in the United States. https://aaep.org/guidelines/vaccination-guidelines/core-vaccination-guidelines/easternwestern-equine-encephalomyelitis.
About Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health
The lives of animals and humans are interconnected in deep and complex ways. We know that when animals are healthy, humans are healthier too. Across the globe, our 9,700 employees are dedicated to delivering value through innovation, thus enhancing the well-being of both.
Respect for animals, humans and the environment guides us every day. We develop solutions and provide services to protect animals from disease and pain. We support our customers in taking care of the health of their animals and protect our communities against life- and society-threatening diseases.
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health is the second largest animal health business in the world, with net sales of $4.7 billion (4.1 billion euros) in 2020 and presence in more than 150 countries.
Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has a significant presence in the United States, with more than 3,100 employees in places that include Georgia, Missouri, Iowa, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. To learn more, visit https://bi-animalhealth.com/, www.facebook.com/BoehringerAHUS or www.twitter.com/Boehringer_AH.