I am often asked questions about
vaccines. As clients you are curious about what the vaccines
are actually protecting your horse against, what vaccines are
necessary, which ones I recommendthe list goes on and on. Some
people simply tell me to "give my horse everything"
while others ask me to "give my horse only what he needs".
Hopefully, after reading this article you will have a better
idea of what your horse needs to be protected against and the
diseases he may face. The following are a list of the common
vaccines that can be administered to your horse.
Tetanus Toxoid, Eastern and Western Encephalitis- Although
this is actually three different diseases, it is often combined
together into one convenient vaccine. Tetanus is a highly
fatal disease. Your horse is exposed to tetanus bacteria when
he has an open wound. The bacteria can be found anywhere in the
horse's environment, on nails, boards, or even in the soil. Once
inside the bacteria can release a toxin that attacks your horse's
nervous system resulting in muscle spasms, paralysis and eventually
death due to respiratory and heart failure. It is for this reason
I will ask when your horse's last tetanus vaccine was given when
I am treating an injury. If your horse gets an injury and it
has been several months since his last tetanus vaccine, it should
be updated. Tetanus vaccines are given once a year (unless an
injury causes another to be given) and would be more ideal to
give in the spring due to higher exposure to the bacteria during
the warmer months as well as the vaccine being combined with
protection against encephalitis. The reason that combination
is significant is because Eastern Encephalitis and Western
Encephalitis are viruses that attack the brain and nervous
system which can result in severe neurological disease and even
death. These viruses are spread by mosquitoes. Therefore, this
vaccine should be given directly prior to the mosquito season.
Since all three diseases covered in this combination vaccine
are more prevalent during the warmer months, it is recommended
that this vaccine is given in the spring.
Influenza / Rhinopneumonitis Again, this vaccine
is a combination vaccine of two separate diseases. Influenza
is a virus, just like us when we get influenza or the "flu",
horses can experience fever, depression, loss of appetite, nasal
discharge and coughing. Although it is rarely fatal, it can be
very contagious and it often results in a long recovery period
causing your horse to lose time from training and showing. Influenza
vaccine is a shorter lived vaccine; therefore, it is often given
at least twice a year (in spring and fall). In young horses that
are frequently traveling to shows and such, vaccines can be given
as often as every three months. Rhinopneumonitis is the name
for Equine Herpesvirus. There are two different types of Herpesvirus:
Type 1 that can cause abortions in pregnant mares and neurologic
and upper respiratory diseases in affected horses and Type 4
that causes mainly upper respiratory disease. Since it is a combination
vaccine, Rhinopneumonitis vaccine is usually given every
6 months along with the influenza. In pregnant mares, there is
a different type of Rhinopneumonitis vaccine that specifically
contains Type 1 to help prevent against infectious abortions.
This Type 1 vaccine is administered during months five, seven
and nine of pregnancy.
West Nile Virus After our last newsletter and all
the information everywhere about West Nile Virus I am sure I
could skip talking about this vaccine. As a recap, West Nile
Virus is a virus that is spread by mosquitoes and affects the
horse's neurological system. I have witnessed clinical signs
ranging from mild muscle tremors to horses walking "drunk"
or unable to stand. Last year, Indiana reported over 700 cases
of West Nile Virus in horses. Since this virus is spread by mosquitoes
it is imperative that your horse gets vaccinated four to six
weeks PRIOR to the mosquito season. If your horse did not get
the vaccine last year you should start vaccinating your horse
over two months prior to the mosquito season-to insure the second
vaccine (given 3 weeks after the first) is given four to six
weeks before any mosquito exposure.
Rabies Rabies is a virus that is spread through bodily
secretions of infected animals (e.g. saliva). This virus is always
fatal; there is no available treatment for rabies once contracted.
The virus attacks the nervous system causing several progressive
neurological symptoms that eventually lead to death. Rabies is
considered endemic in the eastern states and the "spread"
of the disease has been working this way for quite sometime.
It got just about half way through Ohio before they got it back
under control with wildlife vaccination programs. It is for this
reason, and the close proximity of the problem area, that the
veterinarian associations began recommending vaccinations to
any companion animal (including horses). It is state law to vaccinate
your cats and dogs, but it is simply highly recommended to vaccinate
your horse. If any vaccinated animal is apparently bitten by
an unknown animal, it is important that you booster his rabies
vaccination as soon as possible.
Potomac Horse Fever- Potomac Horse Fever is the layman's
name for equine ehrlichiosis which is caused by a bacteria-like
microorganism called Ehrlichia risticii. The first horses that
developed this condition back in 1979 were living along the Potomac
River, thus the name Potomac Horse Fever came in to play. The
organism attacks the horse's monocytes (a type of white blood
cell) and the cells that line the large intestine. Clinical signs
often include high fever, depression, colic, severe diarrhea
and sometimes laminitis (founder). The exact way it is spread
is still unknown, but ticks, fleas, flies, beetles and snails
have and are being investigated. It is not contagious so it will
not spread from horse to horse. Most cases of Potomac Horse Fever
are seen in late summer, between July and September. Therefore,
it is important you vaccinate your horse in the spring before
this period of time.
Intranasal Strangles- Strangles is the layman's name for
disease caused by Streptococcus equi in horses. In this horse's
version of a strep throat, the bacteria settle in the lymph nodes
at the back of the throat and under the jaw and cause them to
turn into pus filled abscesses. Once the abscess gets large enough
they burst open and drain. The term strangles came from the swelling
causing the appearance of the horse being strangled and resulting
in respiratory distress. The disease is highly contagious, the
draining discharge from the abscesses and usually from the nose
is filled with the bacteria and can easily be spread from horse
to horse by direct contact, by you walking in and touching the
horse and touching another horse, from pitchforks, shoes, etc
The vaccination used to be a muscle injection but now the more
common vaccine to use is the intranasal (squirting the vaccine
up the nostril) vaccine. It stimulates an immune response in
the back of the throat where it is needed and not through the
entire body. Strangles is not like "chicken pox" every
horse does not need to get it at some point in their life and
they are not protected for life once they do. Once they contract
it, they probably have the equivalence of a vaccine but should
be revaccinated the following year. If your horse has had the
disease or has been exposed to it, the vaccine may be skipped
for that year to not over stimulate the horse with the bacteria.
The disease is usually more prevalent in younger horses, but
can be contracted in any age of horse.
There you have it, the most commonly used vaccines in a nutshell.
Our recommended vaccination schedule is as follows:
|Potomac Horse Fever
Another consideration is pregnant
mares and foals and when to vaccinate them. The most successful
way to transfer antibodies to a newborn foal is to vaccinate
the mare with your desired vaccines four to six weeks prior to
delivery. By vaccinating the mare, her first milk (the thick,
sticky colostrum) will be high in the antibodies for the vaccine
and will pass immunity to the foal. The foal will have those
maternal antibodies circulating in his/her bloodstream for several
months. The maternal antibodies will interfere with any vaccines
given before six to seven months of age; therefore your foal
should be vaccinated starting around that time.
Our Wellness Package is now finalized
and you can find it on our website by clicking here
or you can contact us for more information.
It is a wonderful way of knowing your horse has received all
his veterinary care for the year without worrying about the small
details. All of the necessary vaccines discussed in the previous
article are covered in the Wellness Package along with annual
physical examination and dental work.
This is the time of year for
the wind to blow, the temperatures to be low and the water to
be frozen. With the cold temperatures horses tend not to drink
as much water as they would during more temperate weather, and
sometimes they can get a bit dehydrated which results in them
being "constipated" or impacted. Impacted horses sometimes
act mildly colicky-not wanting to necessarily eat but also not
being overly uncomfortable (i.e. rolling, kicking at their sides,
etc) as you would expect a true colic to be acting. They usually
respond very well to pain medication (e.g. Flunixin Meglumine
or Banamine®) and will begin eating once administered, but
will then go back to not eating once the medication wears off.
Impactions can generally be palpated in the colon with a rectal
examination and once discovered can usually be treated medically.
Treatment generally consists of fluids, fluids, fluids andoh
yes, more fluids. A large bolus of fluids given both intravenously
(IV) and through the stomach tube with a pump at one time is
usually just what is needed to loosen up the impaction and send
it out on its merry way. Treatments over the course of two to
three days are sometimes required. Some impactions can get more
severe; however, and may require 24 hour IV fluid therapy or
possibly even surgery. In general, the earlier the intervention
the quicker the response to treatment. Prevention of impactions
usually revolve around adequate hydration. I understand the old
adage you can lead a horse to water but you can't make
them drink-but there are a few things that we can try to entice
them to drink a bit more during the colder months. Heated water
troughs or water buckets will not allow water to freeze and allow
constant access to water for the horses during the cold months.
Offering warm water to horses at meal times (especially horses
prone to impactions in the past) is also a good practice. If
you see any clinical signs that resemble an impaction, remember
early intervention is the key. Call for further medical treatment.
As we all know, January 1st is
the universal birthday for all our beloved equine companions.
So why not celebrate with a birthday party? Here's a recipe for
a carrot cake. This was taken from "The Ultimate Guide to
Pampering Your Horse". (They deserve it every once in a
while don't they?)
Carrot Cake 1 c. sugar,
1 c. light brown sugar, 1 c. flour, 1 c. bran, 1 t. baking powder,
1 t. baking soda, 1 t. cinnamon, 3 c. carrots - grated, 1 1/2
c. corn oil, 4 eggs, 2 t. vanilla extract, 1 apple - cut into
Preheat oven to 325 and grease
13X9 baking pan. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and
then add carrots, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until there are
no lumps. Pour into prepared baking pans and bake about 1 hour.
Remove from pan when cool. Garnish with apple slices and sprinkle
with brown sugar. Serve cool. ENJOY!
If you have an email account,
please make sure I have your email address for more up-to-date
and current information.
At the link below, wait for the
entire screen to load up with all four horses and a fence in
front of them. Then click on each horse. Re-click on any horse
to make it turn off or turn it back on again. Enjoy!