Vaccinations & Deworming

STEVE: Routine vaccinations in horses, take into account the geographical locations, and the normal diseases it processes in those areas. Essentially, there are basics that you vaccinate for, like tetanus, eastern and western encephalitis, Venezuelan, depending on your location, and an inclusive would be flu/rhino. And then, also, at times you would vaccinate for Potomac horse fever, depending on location as well. And in addition, you might even consider rabies, if you’re in an area that’s endemic with rabies.

Other vaccines you might consider locally would be strangles, if you have outbreaks. I particularly do not recommend that, because, in outbreaks that I’ve dealt with in the past, there’s a high percentage of horses that have had a history of being vaccinated for strangles, and they still have an outbreak anyway. And the reason for this is because you end up of having a new strain introduced, and it doesn’t appear to be any cross immunization from the previous vaccine to whatever it is that you get exposed to. So it sometimes can be just a waste of money, in my opinion, and a lot of people’s opinion. So as a rule, I don’t recommend it routinely.

If you get an autogenous bacterin, in which, essentially is, a vaccine that’s been produced from the actual organism that’s creating the infection, that does show a lot of efficacy in major outbreaks, when you want to get an outbreak under control. Typically, these things can be controlled by just letting them go through their course. They’ll develop their own immunity to it. To stop carriers, we have a process where, we go ahead and do PCR or DNA testing of the upper respiratory tract, and we flush their guttural patches with penicillin gel, and essentially, we clean up the infection. So therefore, you don’t have anymore carriers.

ALEX: When do you think is the best time to start vaccinating a horse? At what age?

STEVE: That’s a good question, because typically, foals get immunity from their mother, from the time they take or ingest colostrum, until about 90 to 120 days after their born. So what we will normally start to do is, we’ll go ahead and start our normal routine vaccination program at about four months of age, because the immune system then is developed, and they can go ahead and create their own immunity.

So the first vaccinations after a foal is weaned, or right about weaning time, somewhere between four and six months, would include, flu/rhino, tetanus, eastern and western, and then, possibly, Venezuelan, and then the other encephalitides, if you have local infections, which you might include Potomac horse fever and West Nile virus, things of this nature. If you’re in an area where, like we’re in the Ohio Valley here, so we’d recommend it, because of the mosquito population. So, all these things you need to consider, and obviously, rabies is not that prevalent, but if you have a horse that ships to areas out west, you have a lot of high incidence rabies, it’s certainly something you want to consider, if you’re shipping.

ALEX: Now, for instance, somebody has a horse on their farm, they don’t travel or do anything. Do they still have to do these same types of vaccinations? And are their vaccinations that are different with horses that are co-mingled at events? Is there a different vaccination program?

STEVE: Absolutely. That’s a good question, as well. If you’re going to ship, routinely, you know that you’re going to be going into other environments. Like for instance, I’m here, and a lot of my clients come here in the spring and summer, and in the fall they’ll go to Florida, and some in the spring will go to New York, things like this. So they get into a lot of different geographical areas, and they co-mingle horses from a lot of other areas.

You want to take into consideration that flu and rhino, in one area, is not necessarily the same infection as others, so to have that on board, or to have that routine vaccination done several times, sometimes three or four times a year, is recommended. Because you just never know when you could possibly get exposure to these new, different types of strains of influenza and rhino. The biggest thing is that these are routinely changing respiratory infections. They go through a lot of different changes all the time. So they upgrade the vaccine on a regular basis in order to get you more protective immunity.

As far as backyard horses, no. Usually once a year is more than enough, it’s more than adequate, and you really don’t get the level of exposure, unless you have a barn that has a lot of transient population in and out. And if you have that in particular, I’d recommend you have an area that isolates a horse that’s introduced to that group regularly…somewhere in the order of at least two weeks before introduction to the general population. It saves you a lot of time and trouble, and a lot of heartache if you end up having a bad infection come through.

ALEX: Now, if somebody were to, say purchase a horse from somebody, would it be in their best interest to ask for the vaccination record that they’ve been going through?

STEVE: Another great question. The truth is, if you’re going to buy a horse in today’s market, you should be entitled to the complete records, everything that’s ever been done to this horse, from the purchaser, or whatever they have available. And the reason why is, because you’ll have a better idea of what the horse has been vaccinated for, potentially, what it’s been treated for, if they had any problems, setbacks, and the more information you have, the better decision you can make as to how to manage the horse if you do go ahead and bite the bullet and decide to buy them, or, what potentially could be a problem later on down the road, as far as the ownership or the regular maintenance of the horse, as far as your ownership is concerned.

Owners can do their own vaccines. A lot of times, here in Kentucky, you can go right to the feed stores and pick them up. Lexington…here in Shelbyville you can buy them. It’s okay to do that. I don’t really tell people not to. The only thing that I can tell you is, they’re supposed to really watch closely, the expiration dates on them. You need to make sure that you know how to administer them, and what to look for in the way of local reactions or problems afterwards.

In my opinion, it might be beneficial for you to possibly, if it’s a repeat vaccination, it’s probably okay for the owner to go ahead and give it themselves, but an annual would be a good time to have a veterinarian come and be part of the examination process and/or the evaluation process to go ahead and do it during a vaccination time, it’s a probably a good time to do that. Now they can dispense to you the wormers, because most wormers are readily available in paste form. I recommend that highly.

I usually recommend, we worm our horses about twice a year, sometimes five doses of consecutive days of fenbendazole oral paste, and I recommend that routinely, because it kills off, not only any existing larvae, but also the adults, and essentially helps their GI tract in general, reestablishes it and refurbishes it. And of course, I put them on Re-Borne as well. So that helps refurbish their GI tract and helps them convert and gets their GI tract healthy and makes them feel better.

ALEX: We talked before about body score and hair coat and things that just don’t look 100% right. Sometimes it can be in association with, if you do a power pack. It give them a boost, it gets them looking better. The Re-Borne does the same thing, and that transformation can happen pretty quick. Is that correct?

STEVE: Oh yeah. If you get a horse that’s unthrifty, rough coated, the truth is, you need to go ahead and worm them, check their teeth, make sure they’re converting, and then, once you know that those two things are great and in good shape, then you go ahead and put them on the Re-Borne and it basically helps them convert, and gets the horse turned around right away. You will see results rapidly, right away.