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west nile virus
herpes virus
vet check
horse owner
cold conditions
good horse
What Vaccinations Do You Need For Your Horse?
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If you are a horse owner, you are highly likely a horse lover as well. As a horse owner you also know the expense of acquiring a good horse, as well as the expenses involved in providing quality food and board. On top of these costs is the necessity to make sure your horse receives at least an annual equine vet check, regular farrier visits, and a regular rotational deworming program.

So, just what vaccinations do you need?

After the passage of winter and early spring's wet, cold conditions is an ideal time of year for your horse to get a thorough examination. The common shots given help protect your horse from a wide range of illnesses and diseases, including West Nile Virus, tetanus, sleeping sickness (encephalomyelitis), rhino (rhinopneumonitis), rabies, strangles, equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), and more. Just what shots are given will depend upon your horse, and your particular area, since some horses and areas are at higher risk than others for particular diseases.

General Vaccination Descriptions (this is by no means a complete list):

Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM): EPM affects the brain and spinal cord and is a debilitating neurologic disease. EPM is picked up by horses when they graze or drink water or grain contaminated by infected feces from animals that carry it, such as possums. A horse with EPM may lose weight, will become weak, lame, and uncoordinated and stiff. It may become difficult for a horse to rise after lying down. A horse may even develop seizures, blindness, head-shaking and sweating when there is no reason to sweat.

Equine Rhinopneumonitis: This disease is caused by a herpes virus and is much like the symptoms of equine influenza. Thankfully it is rarely fatal. While even vaccinated horses can come down with it, they are the horses who generally have milder forms of it.

Tetanus: Remember your mother telling you about "lock jaw"? Well, this is tetanus and it's caused by bacteria that exist in great numbers in your horse's surroundings (the soil), as well as in intestinal tracts of many animals. Tetanus is toxin-producing (the toxin is called, "Clostridium tenani"), and is contracted by way of a wound. Unfortunately, 80% of all horses that come down with it will die. So make sure your horse's environment is free of any objects or other conditions that make cause him/her to be cut or scratched, and keep an equine first aid kit on hand to treat any wounds found. Tetanus spores abound everywhere your horse lives.

Rabies: Don't ever miss getting this vaccine for your equine. While it is rare for a horse to contract rabies, death always occurs in horses that get it. If that scares you, well, it scares me too! Make sure your horse gets his/her vaccination.

Equine Encephalomyelitis: Commonly called, "sleeping sickness" is transmitted by those pesky mosquitoes that have picked up the disease from birds or rodents. This disease has different varieties, depending on where you live. There are many different symptoms stemming from degeneration of the brain. Early signs may include loss of appetite, fever, and even depression. In its latter stages a horse may stagger. In some cases 50% of horses die and in other cases up to 70 to 80% die from this disease.

West Nile Virus: Once again, this disease is most commonly spread by the bite of those pesky mosquitoes. Horses dying from this disease have been known to be 40% of those infected. Some areas are more susceptible than others.

Equine Influenza: This is a respiratory disease and is the most common such disease in horses. The good thing is that it is usually not fatal. Its symptoms are dripping nasal passages, fever, coughing, and snorting. Please take note that this is a short list of illnesses and diseases a horse needs to be protected against. But it should serve to communicate to you the necessity of getting your horse examined at least annually and to get all shots recommended.

How Much Does The Vet Cost?

That's a loaded question, because it depends on your area and what the going rate is, as well as the requirements for your particular horse. For instance, I had an old mare that needed a great deal of medical and nutritional attention due to her age and her overall health. She suffered from arthritis, Cushing’s disease and - in the end - cancer. I obviously spent a great deal more of money on her than I do my 10-year-old, easy-keeper gelding.

The average cost to have a vet come out ranges wildly depending on where you live. I pay about $100 per horse when my equine vet comes for the annual visit in the spring. I pay extra if a horse needs more than the regular exam and shots, such as floating teeth, or drawing a coggins blood sample.

“How Much Is The Vet You Use?”

If horse ownership is new to you the best thing to do is ask other horse owners for recommendations and find out how much they pay. Keep in mind that you will want to budget wisely and get a good deal, but make sure it's not at the expense of your horse's health. Good vets, farriers, and equine dentists are worth their weight in gold. That doesn't mean you need to pay them their weight in gold, but it does mean you need to make sure your horse's care providers are knowledgeable and up-to-date on equine health issues.

How to Give an Injection:

The other alternative is always your giving the vaccinations yourself. If you know how to do that or know someone who can teach you, by all means, you can certainly do that. But still have the equine vet come out and look your horse over anyway. A fresh, trained eye may be able to spot things you may miss - and two heads are always better than one!

The 4 Types of Injections :

1) Intravenous - These are given into a vein.

2) Intradermal - These are given into the skin.

3) Subcutaneous - These are given underneath the skin.

4) Intramuscular - These are give deep into a large muscle mass. Intramuscular injections (called "IM") are the most common, and the injected drug absorbs slowly into a horse's system when given this way.

• You will find a good video on giving injections at Horse of Course, as well as more tips on keeping your equine comrade healthy.

Good equine management means being responsible for protecting your horse's health. A vaccination program goes a long way in that direction. Keep up with those vaccinations by making sure the vet comes for a visit annually. Spring is usually the best time.

As always, happy trails!

Street Talk

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