What Diseases Should I Vaccinate My Horses Against?

Vaccinations are always a tough subject when it comes to any living thing. Some will herald vaccinations as an advancement and triumph in medicine, while others will consider them risky and unworthy. Presently, you can vaccinate against just about anything from anthrax to snakebites, but it may not be warranted. The real question to ask yourself is: What diseases should I really vaccinate my horse against? The answer is different for every horse owner depending on the breed, region, and any regulations around horse ownership in your city or state. Keep reading this article for tips and advice on how you should go about vaccinating your horse.

            It’s common knowledge that vaccines are among the most effective resources for protecting horses against fatal diseases. Before saying yes too quickly to this shot or the next, have a plan in place for how you’re going to go about giving your horse the proper treatment it needs. As vaccines work by priming the immune system of your horse against specific viruses and diseases, your horse will require the right vaccinations at the right time to ensure proper protection and minimize risks. To construct the right plan for vaccinating your horse consider the following factors: location, lifestyle, use, and age. Some possible vaccinations are more geocentric, and others are more for social purposes meaning protection against diseases that spread horse to horse. Once you understand these factors, you can begin to give your horse adequate treatment around vaccinations. Start by following the AAEP core vaccination standards which are a list of vaccinations that come highly recommended for all horses in America. Core diseases to vaccinate your horse against are Tetanus, Rabies, and Eastern/Western Equine Encephalitis. These vaccinations are labeled as core requirements by the AAEP as the bacteria that cause these diseases are present everywhere or they are viruses that can turn fatal quickly. Other vaccinations that can be optional depending on your situation include influenza, equine herpes, rotavirus, Potomac horse fever, and strangles which is caused by Streptococcus equi bacteria. Each one of these vaccinations can be applied to your horse should the right factors and elements align. Take the rotavirus for example; this vaccine is used to help pregnant mares protect their fouls from diarrhea. If your horse is a stallion or not a pregnant broodmare then it’s unlikely you will need to vaccinate your horse against this disease. Whatever vaccination regimen you go with, always make sure to consult your veterinarian before proceeding. You should also stay vigilant and periodically reevaluate your approach based on new threats and changes to external conditions that may have a negative effect on your horse’s lifestyle.

Contrary to popular opinion, vaccines are not expensive especially in comparison to supportive care for a horse that may be affected by a serious disease. It’s easy to pay $20 now for preventive care than thousands in ongoing treatment. The bottom line is that vaccines do make a difference and have proven to be extremely effective in preventing life-threatening illnesses. By talking to your vet and asking questions, you can implement a plan that will protect your horse from against any devastating disease.