Diseases, Vaccines

Equine Vaccination: Vaccinating Your Horse

November 29, 2022

Equine Vaccination: Vaccinating Your Horse

Last updated: August 2, 2016

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.

Equine Encephalitis

The “EW” in vaccines is Encephalitis. Eastern and Western Encephalitis are of concern all through the mosquito season. Signs of equine Encephalitis 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 the equine Encephalitis vaccine 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 in Horses

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 in horses, 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

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 with the equine flu rhino vaccine.

Horse Pest Control

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. Products like Cedarcide YardSafe, Country Vet® Flying Insect Spray, or Permethrin 10% 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 or have other questions on horse vaccination, call us at 800.786.4751.

-Dr. Bramlage
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival's Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.