There are many factors to consider when deciding on an appropriate vaccination schedule for your horse such as age, use, and geographic location. There are core vaccinations that should be administered to all horses, and some vaccines that should be given based on risk assessment. Many of these diseases can be fatal to your horse. Please call or email us to determine an appropriate vaccination program for your horse.
West Nile Virus, and Eastern/ Western Encephalitis are spread by mosquitoes. These diseases attack the nervous system of your horse often leading to death. Here in NC, and in other parts of the country as well, the mosquitoes do not die off in the winter so your horse should be vaccinated twice per year.
There are several diseases that horses can catch from other horses. Equine Influenza (Flu), and Equine Herpes Virus (Rhino) are both respiratory diseases that are caught when a horse that has the disease coughs on your horse. When a horse coughs it can easily infect a horse housed in the stall directly across the aisle, and possibly even further. Equine Herpes Virus 1 can be fatal if your horse gets a form that causes neurologic disease. You should vaccinate your horses twice per year against these diseases.
Strangles is a bacterial infection that affects the lymph nodes up under the chin of your horse. It usually is not fatal, but it is a nightmare for your barn. It is highly contagious and spreads rapidly through a barn. It can be transmitted by horse to horse contact, coughing, tack/ equipment sharing between horses, or on peoples' hands. Horses typically get a fever then develop swellings under their chins. Eventually these swellings burst open and copious amounts of pus will drain. There is an intranasal vaccine that helps prevent this disease.
Rabies is a fatal disease that your horse gets if bitten by an animal that has rabies. Rabies can cause your horse's behavior to change, and is contagious to humans by contact with their saliva. If your horse is acting strangely please be safe. Leave him alone and call your veterinarian for advice. If you suspect that your horse has been bitten by another animal, please call your veterinarian. Horses can have a number of different odd symptoms from the disease. If your horse suddenly begins to act odd, please consult your veterinarian. You should vaccinate your horse once per year against Rabies.
Tetanus is a usually fatal disease that your horse gets from getting dirt in an open wound. You do not have to be able to see the wound- a tiny puncture is all that is needed. The disease leads to paralysis and eventually death. Your horse should be vaccinated every six months against Tetanus. A related disease is Botulism. Your horse typically gets Botulism when feeding on a round bale that inadvertently had a rodent incorporated into the hay. If your horse eats the hay that was contaminated by a dead animal that had Botulism, he may get the disease. It is typically fatal. At risk horses can be vaccinated against Botulism.
Potomac Horse Fever is an illness that is caught when your horse grazes near the edge of a stream or pond. A small snail carries the disease and your horse gets it when he eats the grass that the snail is on. This vaccine is often given with the Rabies vaccine once per year.
Did you know that there are only four different classes of dewormer, and parasites are developing resistance to them? They are becoming resistant primarily due to the practice of rotational deworming. There aren't any new dewormers being developed anytime soon so it is crucially important that we don't allow the parasites to become resistant to the medications we have. Performing a fecal egg count prior to deworming is the best practice.
The goal of parasite control is minimize the risk of disease, control egg shedding and decrease further anthelmintic resistance. It is nearly impossible to eradicate all parasites from an individual horse. We advocate the evidence-based practice of strategic deworming. We recommend a Fecal Egg Count (FEC) two times a year to determine your horse’s individual worm burden, and we do this test in our lab to ensure accurate results. Each horse is classified as a low, moderate, or high shedder and the appropriate dewormer will be recommended based on the FEC. With this practice many horses will only need to be dewormed once or twice a year.
Although the practice of rotational deworming for adult horses should not be done, as a practical matter, we still use this method with foals. Begin deworming your foal starting at 2-3 months of age and then deworm every 2-3 months for the first year. A benzimidazole dewormer is effective against ascarids (round worms) and is recommended for the first dewormer. Then you should continue the rotation using ivermectin, pyrantel pamaoate, then ivermectin plus praziquantel.
These horses should be considered high shedders and dewormed four times per year. Please call your veterinarian if you have any questions on which dewormers to use.
In order for your horse to become infected with parasites it needs to come in contact with the manure of a horse that has worms. This includes its own manure. In an ideal world all the horse manure would be removed as soon as it hit the ground and this would prevent reinfection. Although picking up all the manure is not practical for most horse owners, the closer you can get to this ideal the better. If the manure cannot be removed from the pasture simply spreading it out so that it dries out quickly will help because the parasite eggs will dry out and die. If your farm has a manure spreader, it should be composted before it is spread. Spreading fresh manure on your pasture is like spreading parasite eggs on your horses' food supply! The composted manure is also much better fertilizer. If managing the manure is not possible you might be able to keep your horse from being reinfected by frequently changing the pasture that he grazes in.
The horse depends on its teeth to survive. In order to get the nutrition it needs it must be able to grind the grasses, hays, and grains into small digestible particles. If these foods are not ground down, your horse cannot get the most nutrients out of what it eats. The larger particles simply pass through undigested. This is hard on the horse, and it wastes money in form of wasted feed.
Sometimes poor dentition can lead to some physical problems that usually require emergency treatment. Again, horses that cannot grind their food properly end up with food particles that are too large and this can cause your horse to choke. The larger food particles can also cause your horse to colic, or make an impaction colic worse.
Bad teeth typically cause your horse pain. The sharp points and hooks poke your horse in the soft tissue inside his mouth. An abscessed tooth can cause a horse enough pain to go off his feed. Wolf teeth can cause pain when the bit is in your horse's mouth and lead to bad behavior. When a horse needs its teeth floated it will begin dropping feed. Sharp points prevent your horse from closing his mouth normally and food begins to fall out. In some cases horses will drop wads of hay on the ground because they simply cannot grind it.
We perform sedation dentistry to allow us to do a thorough examination of your horse’s mouth. This allows us to better visualize all of the teeth and look for things such as an abscess, loose or missing teeth, malocclusions, wolf teeth, and retained deciduous teeth.