The cases of Equine Influenza in Spring 2019 saw the cancellation of racing and many other competitions, and as a result there has been an increased uptake in owners vaccinating their horses. So apart from meeting competition rules why do you need to vaccinate your horse? Here are five important reasons to vaccinate your horse.
A fairly obvious reason but vaccinations offer your horse protection, and horses in the UK are routinely vaccinated against Equine Flu and Tetanus. Equine Flu has been in the spotlight recently, but often Tetanus is a condition overlooked by horse owners. Tetanus is a life threatening disease caused by a toxin released from a bacteria called Clostridium tetani, which lives in the environment, and enters the body generally via a small wound. Horses are very susceptible to Tetanus, prognosis is very poor, and sadly most cases don’t survive.
Often owners are concerned that a vaccination might make their horse unwell, but this is quite uncommon. Just like a human receiving a flu vaccination your horse might experience some localised muscle soreness, so it is sensible to plan a few quieter days afterwards. If you are concerned about your horse developing an abscess in the vaccination site speak to your vet as they can inject into the pectoral muscles in the chest, which would allow any abscess to drain better and heal faster.
Many owners simply vaccinate their horse to comply with competition rules, and consequently younger or older animals often don’t receive routine booster vaccinations.
A Tetanus vaccination is absolutely essential for all horses, as risk is from the environment, so any horse can suffer from this condition. It is sensible to vaccinate your horse for flu, even if they never leave the field, as both older horses and youngstock can suffer from reduced immunity. Human flu vaccinations are offered to both the young and elderly as these group are more at risk, and it is the same for horses.
Cost is often cited as a reason that owners don’t vaccinate but what are the costs of not vaccinating your horse?
A booster vaccination may cost around the same as a lesson, but compare this to the cost of an Influenza outbreak, involving numerous visits from the vet, isolation and nursing costs, or a case of Tetanus where your horse would probably not survive.
Many practices offer a practice plan where vaccinations are paid for on a monthly basis, or consider combining a call out fee with other owners as another way to make vaccinations affordable.
Vaccinating your horse also contributes to the overall health of the entire equine population, and without many responsible owners vaccinating their horses we would probably see far more outbreaks of Flu.
If you need another reason then it is worth highlighting that your insurance policy will not cover costs associated with a condition that could have been prevented with a vaccination.
You can read more about vaccinations in this article (link) which explores common vaccination myths.