Are You on a Horse Vaccination Schedule?
Every horse owner should understand the vaccine recommendations for their animals, and be on a horse vaccination schedule. Protocols do change relatively frequently based on vaccinations as they become available, as new research comes out, and whenever there is an outbreak. But overall, the recommendations are pretty consistent.
While there is no perfect regiment for any horse, as some will require more attention than others, there is still a recommended list that you should always follow. Just keep in mind to always ask your veterinarian what is going to be best for your horse, and what the best horse vaccination schedule is.
Some activities will require different vaccinations. For example, if your horse stays at home or if it travels and what part of the country you live in. There are all kinds of considerations to keep in mind, but today we’re going to talk about the basics.
What Shots Do Horses Need and How Often?
There are all kinds of important shots to give your horse. First is EWT/WN, which is a four-way vaccine, combining multiple vaccines into a single injection. This vaccine will protect against tetanus and West Nile virus, as well as Eastern and Western encephalitis. This one convenient shot should be given annually in the springtime.
Then we have the rabies vaccine, which is also an annual shot that should be given in the spring or in the fall. Rabies is carried by all kinds of different animals, like bats, skunks, and raccoons. But horses are susceptible to it too.
And unfortunately, rabies is actually 100% fatal in horses because there is no cure and there is no treatment. Horses can sometimes survive, but it’s better to not even chance it.
What about Influenza Vaccine for Horses?
Another important shot is the influenza vaccine. It’s not a core recommended vaccine, but it is pretty important and highly recommended. This can be given on a semi-annual basis, and it’s ideal for horses who travel.
The flu is a respiratory disease that can be contagious from one horse to another, and it can be a nightmare if the horse passes it on to all the other horses in the stable. However, if your herd is isolated and never travels, it’s probably not necessary to get the flu vaccine.
Strangles Vaccine for Horses
Strangles is an annual vaccine given to your horse to prevent the bacteria that causes a systematic abscessation of the lymph nodes. If your horse gets strangles it can get a nasty pus discharge coming from its nostrils.
Your horse will get a high fever, it will have a strangled sound when it breathes, and everything will get pretty ugly. Strangles is not life threatening, but it’s still important to get a vaccine to deter an infection.
Protomac Horse Fever Vaccine
Potomac horse fever requires a semi-annual vaccine sometime in the spring or fall. This is a bacterial infection that occurs when the horse digests dead mayflies and other nasty insects. It’s relatively rare, but a vaccine is always a good deterrent against something bad happening.
Rhinopneumonitis Vaccine Horses
And the final recommended shot for your horse is a deterrent for Rhinopneumonitis, which infects pregnant mares and can result in the loss of a pregnancy. There are two different varieties of this vaccine, and you will need to talk to your veterinarian when you discover that your horse is pregnant. This vaccine is only needed for pregnant horses when they are between five and nine months of pregnancy.
Sometimes horses can be a little skittish when getting needles, not often, but sometimes. Here is an article about calming supplements that may help.
How Often Does My Horse Need Vaccinations?
The only way to know for sure how often your horse needs vaccinations is to speak with your veterinarian.
Every horse is unique, and every environment is different.
Only a skilled veterinarian can help determine the risk factors in your specific area, the best time to get your horses vaccinated, and the right vaccines for the individual animals on your farm.
You will need to discuss the age of your horses, their lifestyle, and their nutritional needs with your veterinarian to come up with a permanent health care plan. After this, you will need to follow recommendations by your veterinarian for how often to vaccinate.
But there are some annual vaccinations that generally need to get done. In order to protect your horse against equine influenza, equine herpesvirus, strangles, and other nasty issues, there are some annual vaccines that aren’t really negotiable.
What Vaccines Do Horses Need Every Year?
The main vaccinations that your horse needs every year are going to be for rabies, for protection against Eastern and Western encephalitis, West Nile virus, tetanus, and other risk-basked issues depending on the behaviour and lifestyle of your horse. Some horses may need bi-annual shots depending on mosquitoes in your area and other external influences.
What Is in the 4-Way Vaccine for Horses?
The 4-way vaccine is just a way to describe one vaccine that protects against four different things. A standard 4-way vaccine is going to protect your horse against eastern equine encephalomyelitis, western equine encephalomyelitis, tetanus, and influenza.
This is a key vaccine that should be administered annually. Always check with your veterinarian before going ahead with the vaccine.
There is also the 3-way vaccine but it doesn’t protect against influenza. Generally, you want to choose the 4-way over the 3-way.
What Is in the 5-Way Vaccine for Horses?
The 5-way vaccine is the exact same as the 4-way vaccine except that it offers protection against equine herpesvirus, also known as rhinopneumonitis. This particular vaccine is going to depend on the risk factors that your horse has.
It might be totally fine with a 4-way vaccine. Again, like everything when dealing with vaccines, the only way to know for sure is to ask a vet.
What Is in the 6-Way Vaccine for Horses?
The 6-way vaccine is the biggest of all the combination vaccines. It obviously protects against everything in the 4-way vaccine and in the 5-way vaccine, but it adds protection against West Nile.
This is the newest and biggest combination vaccine out there. It’s a big vaccine, and your horse might not need protection against everything. If there is no threat of the West Nile virus where you live, it’s probably overkill.