Preventive Healthcare for your Horse

Preventive Healthcare For Your Horse Includes:

  • Vaccinations

  • Deworming

  • Dentistry

  • Coggins Testing

  • Farriery


Horses are vaccinated against a number of diseases, including:

  • Influenza (“flu”),(EIV)
  • Rhinovirus (“rhino”),(EHV)
  • Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis

(“sleeping sickness”),(EEE/WEE)

  • West Nile Virus
  • Potomac Horse Fever
  • Strangles
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus (lockjaw)

Influenza & Rhinovirus:

  • Respiratory viruses which cause fever, nasal discharge, cough and lethargy.
  • Easily spread from horse to horse
  • Horses which often come into contact with other horses are at most risk. (shows, trail rides, clinics.)
  • Vaccines are available.


  • Caused by a bacteria, Clostridium tetani, which gets into the body through skin wounds.
  • Causes all muscles to become rigidly paralyzed.
  • Almost always fatal once symptoms develop.
  • Easily prevented by vaccination.

Sleeping Sickness:

  • Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis.
  • Spread by the bite of an infected mosquito
  • Causes neurologic signs; incoordination, depression, seizures, headpressing, circling, blindness.
  • 20 to 90 percent of cases are fatal.
  • Easily prevented by proper vaccination

West Nile Virus:

  • New to Minnesota; appeared in 2002
  • Spread by mosquitoes.
  • Causes symptoms similar to equine encephalitis; incoordination, depression, seizures, headpressing, circling, blindness.
  • An effective vaccine is available.

Potomac Horse Fever:

  • Caused by a bacteria, Neorickettsia risticii
  • Symptoms include high fever, severe diarrhea, colic and founder (laminitis).
  • Kills 5 to 30% of infected horses; those which survive often founder.
  • A vaccine is available to help prevent this disease.


  • Bacterial disease, caused by Streptococcus equi.
  • Spreads easily from horse to horse, or through contact with contaminated feeding or grooming equipment, water buckets, or secretions.
  • Causes fever, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing and  swollen lymph nodes which eventually rupture and drain pus.


  • Spread by the bite of an infected animal.
  • Causes neurologic signs; depression, blindness, headpressing, circling, seizures, aggressiveness.
  • Can resemble other neurologic conditions.
  • Contagious to humans, through the saliva of an infected animal, most commonly by being bitten.
  • Always fatal in unvaccinated animals and humans.
  • An effective vaccine is available.

Vaccination Recommendations:

  • Vaccination program should be tailored to the needs of the individual horse.
  • Spring Vaccinations usually include influenza, rhinovirus, sleeping sickness, West Nile Virus and rabies.  Many horses are also vaccinated against strangles and Potomac horse fever.
  • Autumn Vaccinations may include influenza, rhinovirus and strangles.

Rotational Deworming:

  • Deworm adult horses every two months.
  • Rotate Dewormers
Month Dewormer
January Ivermectin
March Pyrantel Pamoate (double dose)
May Ivermectin w/ Praziquantel
July Fenbendazole
September Ivermectin
November Ivermectin w/ Praziquantel

Deworming Foals

  • Foals should be dewormed every month for the first year of life, rotating between Ivermectin and Pyrantel Pamoate.

Your Horse’s Teeth:

  • Regular dental care is an important part of keeping your horse healthy.  Your horse’s teeth should be examined at least annually by a veterinarian, and floated if needed.  Properly cared for teeth enable your horse to chew its food correctly, helping to maintain body condition.  Dental problems may contribute to difficulty with the bit when the horse is being ridden.  Teeth in poor condition may also contribute to the risk of colic.

Coggins Testing:

  • Tests for equine infectious anemia, once referred to as “swamp fever.”
  • Disease is spread from horse to horse by insects.
  • Causes anemia, weight loss, fever and depression.
  • Coggins testing identifies infected horses, which are then either quarantined for life, or euthanized.
  • A negative coggins test is usually required for horse shows, clinics and organized trail rides.


  • Your horse’s hooves should be trimmed regularly by a qualified farrier.
  • Typically, hooves are trimmed every six to eight weeks.
  • If shod, shoes are usually reset every eight to twelve weeks.

In Conclusion…

·         Adhering to a regular plan of preventive healthcare will help keep your horse healthy and happy.

·         The preventive healthcare plan should be tailored to the needs of the individual horse.

·         Your veterinarian will be happy to help you design a preventive healthcare plan for your horse.

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