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Vaccinating Your Horse

You should be vaccinating your horses for a variety of diseases, including Encephalitis and West Nile. There is no way to prevent mosquitoes that carry Encephalitis and West Nile from biting your horse, but you can prevent the viruses from becoming an issue.


The "EW" in vaccines is Encephalitis. Eastern and Western Encephalitis are of concern all through the mosquito season. Signs of Encephalitis in a horse are head pressing and stumbling. Even if horses recover from the disease, they will continue to stumble, which is a definite safety concern if ridden. Prevention with vaccination has been the only sure way of avoiding Encephalitis.

West Nile Virus is Encephalitis and the symptoms are much the same as "EW" but with more muscle fasciculation. The typical early signs are twitching and shaking of the chest muscles and stumbling. Once a horses starts showing clinical signs, the treatment needed to ride them again is expensive and seldom successful. Water fowl are a common carrier for the West Nile Virus. If you live in a water fowl flyway, you will see a second rise in West Nile Virus when the birds return from the arctic.

Prestige® V + WNV vaccine protects healthy horses against Eastern and Western Encephalitis, Influenza, Tetanus, Rhino, and West Nile Virus.


Tetanus or lockjaw is caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria found in horse manure. If your horse gets cut or steps on anything that punctures him, he will get exposed. There is no treatment that works for tetanus, so you need to vaccinate yearly to ensure horses stay safe. It is called lockjaw because the muscles contract with this disease, “lock up” and cannot be relaxed. Horses get very scared and rigid and any sound can cause them to throw themselves to the ground when they jump.


Influenza and Rhinopneumonitis (Herpesvirus) are both viruses that cause respiratory diseases in a horse. Influenza is similar to our flu with a respiratory snot nose. Rhino acts much like a cold in humans and starts with coughing. You can treat your horses to get over it, but the biggest issue is you can’t ride them during recovery, which takes two or three months. If it happens to be during the time frame for that trail ride you waited for, it doesn’t make your day! Prevent it from happening by vaccinating for it.


Once you get your horses vaccinated, you should also make sure their living conditions are treated for added protection. Eliminate standing water and containers that hold standing water. Discourage birds from living around your stable. Use sprays safe for the environment to control the mosquito population. We like Adams Plus Yard Spray, Country Vet® Mosquito & Fly Spray, or Permethrin 10%. These products are long-lasting and work to kill mosquitoes.

We want to encourage everyone to vaccinate your backyard horse! With lots of mosquitoes around, Encephalitis is always a concern. Look for a vaccine that lists "EWTF with West Nile” to cover them all. Remember horse vaccines when you place your next order and win this disease fight before it ever gets started.

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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For over 25 years, Revival Animal Health has been caring for people who care for pets by delivering quality, reliable products, along with customer service that's committed to your needs. Owners, breeders and shelters count on us because we too love pets, and provide the knowledge, understanding and genuine care it takes to keep them happy and healthy. We feel this is truly what it means to serve you with Pet Care from the Heart®.

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