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Dear Cherry

Do older horses require the same vaccines as the younger ones. Mine is at a boarding stable and has been immunized every year. I had the vet come out and do a physical on both of my horses (both mares, one is 7 the other is 31). He said that the older mare could do without a couple of the shots (Strangles, Potomac, and rabies). But the barn owner said he requires that all the horses have the same shots as long as they are boarded at his barn. I’m wondering if mine and others are being over vaccinated? What are your thoughts? I also had the vet do fecal tests for parasites, which came out normal on both. I’m afraid he’s going to tell me I have to give them dewormer. The vet suggested doing the fecals first and I agree with him. I’ve always given the wormer before, but again the vet is suggesting that they can be overmedicated on dewormer. Both my mares are very healthy. You’d never know that the 31 year old was that old!

Thanks for you input.  Mary

Hi Mary,

Generally I would follow the recommendations of your veterinarian. What you vaccinate for and how often you deworm and with what should be based on an individual horse’s situation and needs. There is no sense deworming a horse with a negative fecal exam.

However, whether right or wrong, the owner of the barn where you board may have the legal right to require you to vaccinate and deworm according to his farm’s guidelines. I hope the barn’s program has been developed in consultation with a veterinarian.

If it becomes a point of contention, it would be best to have your veterinarian discuss the health program requirements with the barn owner and his veterinarian so they can come to an agreeable solution for all.

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Choosing Equine Vaccines

©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

When I went equine vaccine shopping this year, I found there were two choices that allowed me to combine West Nile Virus with the usual WEE, EEE and Tetanus booster.

Ready-to-Use in preloaded syringe (RTU)

and

Vaccines Requiring Reconstitution (VRR)

(Note that these are my acronyms  – just to make things easier to talk about.)

Both RTUs and VRRs are given intramuscularly (IM) using the provided syringe and 1 ½” long 20 gauge needle.

Ready-to-Use (RTU)

Vaccines that are ready-to-use, requiring no reconstitution, come as a preloaded syringe with a rubber plug and a separate needle that you attach to the syringe prior to administering. This is a relatively newer, user-friendly type of vaccine that has been available to horse owners for about 10 years.

This year RTUs are available in several combinations such as:

West Nile + Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE and WEE)

West Nile + Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan Encephalomyelitis

West Nile + Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan Encephalomyelitis + Tetanus

Vaccines Requiring Reconstitution (VRR)

Vaccines that need to be reconstituted are nothing new – in fact, this was about the only way to purchase equine vaccines prior to the advent of the RTU type described above.

VRRs are comprised of a 3 part kit: one glass bottle of dried vaccine powder (in this case West Nile Virus Live Canarypox Vector), one bottle of liquid diluent (in this case Killed WEE, EEE and Tetanus diluent), and one syringe with needle.

Using the syringe and needle, the diluent is drawn out of the bottle and injected into the bottle containing the dried vaccine.  The mixture is shaken until thoroughly mixed. The mixture is drawn out of the bottle with the needle and administered to the horse.

Advantages – Disadvantages – Potential Problems

VRRs use a fairly foolproof procedure but the vet tech that sold the vaccines said that the following problems could occur so she reminds people to:

Don’t forget to add the diluent to the dry mixture. (She said horseowners administer the diluent only, then call and ask how they can give the dry portion after the fact – you can’t !!)

Mix thoroughly – if there is inadequate mixing, particles could clog the needle or the product won’t dissipate correctly in the horse’s tissues.

Administer within 20 minutes of reconstitution or risk less efficacy.

Be sure to use the correct diluent. If you have more pharmaceuticals in your barn refrigerator, be sure you don’t grab the epinephrine or something else by mistake !

Which One?

Because the vaccines requiring reconstitution were $3 per head less expensive and because I am familiar with using that method, I purchased the vaccines requiring reconstitution. If you have a large number of horses, consider RTU to save time, and consider VRR to save money. Both types are available in single dose and multiple dose vials. Multiple dose vials are always less expensive per head. As always, confer with your veterinarian.

One or Two West Nile Inoculations?

Although WEE, EEE and Tetanus boosters are given once a year, it is often suggested that in areas with early and long mosquito seasons or a high incidence of West Nile Virus, a booster should be given 3-4 months after the first vaccination in the spring.

For the RTU vaccine, it was suggested I purchase two for each horse, one to use early in the mosquito season and one later in the summer or early fall as a booster.

For the VRR, it was not suggested that I purchase two for each horse  –  one inoculation is supposed to keep the horse’s titer up high enough during the entire mosquito season. The technology behind that vaccine product is supposed to produce a stronger and longer lasting reaction in the horse.

Note: here at 7000 feet in semi-arid Colorado, we don’t see mosquitoes until late in the summer if at all, so I vaccinate in May or June and that is thought to be sufficient to protect them through the end of mosquito season. If you are in other locations, you might vaccinate in March and again in summer or early fall. Confer with your veterinarian.

Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac

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VETERINARY CARE
©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

Although your veterinarian will perform many routine and emergency tasks for you, you must be responsible for knowing what to schedule and when.

Immunization Annual vaccinations can protect your horse from certain diseases.  Most horses should be vaccinated against Tetanus, Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis, Influenza, and Rhinopneumonitis.  In some parts of the country, Potomac Horse Fever, Rabies, and Strangles vaccines are also recommended.

Tetanus (lockjaw) is an infection of the nervous system caused by bacteria that enter through a wound or a foal’s umbilical cord.  The muscles stiffen so severely that within a few days the animal dies or must be euthanized.

Encephalomyelitis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a virus carried by a mosquito.  The mosquito transports the virus from a wild bird or animal to your horse.  The horse gets a high fever, is paralyzed and dies within 2-4 days.

Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus.  It’s a common respiratory disease spread by coughing that is rarely fatal.

Rhinopneumonitis (snots) usually affects 4-6 month old foals.  Pregnant broodmares that come in contact with this virus might abort.

Distemper (strangles) is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes the glands near the throat to swell.  The horse will not eat or drink and gets a very high fever but rarely dies.

Rabies rarely affects horses but can result in death.  The virus is transmitted from an infected animal to the horse by a bite, usually from a dog, a skunk, a fox, or a bat.

Equine Infectious Anemia (swamp fever) is a virus that infects the horse’s blood and is spread from one horse to another through a biting insect.  There is no vaccine to protect your horse against swamp fever but the Coggins test identifies carriers.

Diseases are spread either directly from one horse to another, from a contaminated stall or feeder to a horse, between horses eating or drinking from communal areas, or through the air.

If a horse is contaminated, use a combination of treatment, disinfecting, and quarantine to keep the disease from spreading and to eliminate the organism that caused it.

Poison Prevention Horses investigate unknown things with their lips so all dangerous substances must be kept out of their reach.  Use safe paint.  Don’t let horses get near junk or vehicles where they might ingest toxic paints, plastic, rubber, antifreeze, or battery fluid.  Don’t apply insecticides or herbicides near their feed or water areas and be aware of which way the wind is blowing when you are spraying.  Read all labels very carefully or you might accidentally give your horse an overdose of an antibiotic, dewormer or nutritional supplement.

Dental Care Once a year your vet should float (rasp) your horse’s molars to prevent dangerous sharp points from cutting the horse’s cheeks and tongue.  At the same time, your vet can pop any caps (baby teeth) that might hang on when the adult teeth have erupted.  If your horse has wolf teeth (small tooth directly in front of the premolars) it can be removed to prevent problems with the snaffle bit.

Parasite Control All horses have internal parasites.  The worm eggs in manure hatch into larvae that are eaten by the horse.  Once inside the horse they subsist on the horse’s blood while they mature, lay eggs and continue the cycle.  Bots live inside the horse until the pupae drops to the ground with manure and hatches into a bot fly.  Although bot flies look like bees, they don’t sting but lay eggs on the horse’s hair.  Nose bots try to fly up the horse’s nose, which causes most horses to strike viciously with their front legs and run frantically.  This is a very dangerous situation.

To prevent your horse from becoming dull coated, pot bellied, and lethargic, deworm your horse every 8 weeks.  Remove manure from his living quarters daily.  Remove bot eggs from his hair every day beginning in August.

Taking good care of a horse is one of the most satisfying experiences that I know.  There is no sight quite like a bright, alert horse that is sound, shiny and ready to go.

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