Equine News

Spring Vaccines for Your Horse

Spring brings more riding and transportation of our horses, so it is important to schedule your horse’s annual spring checkup and vaccinations.

Part of the spring checkup is to check our horse’s teeth. Teeth in horses grow and wear throughout life. This can create problems for young and developing horses, horses going into training, performance horses and older horses. If you have questions about equine dentistry or have horses going into training, please call us. We would like to help you with the most effective dental plan for your horse.

There are many safe and effective vaccines available to protect your horses from infectious diseases.  Sometimes, it can be confusing as to which vaccines your horses may need.  Let’s take a look at the vaccine options, and the necessity of each.  Always remember that your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on the vaccines that your horses need.


Core vaccinations your horse needs each year include Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis, Western Equine Encephalomyelitis, West Nile Virus, Tetanus and Rabies.  These diseases can be brought to your horses at home without exposure to other horses.

Diseases your horses can get from exposure to other horses include influenza, rhinopneumonitis and strep equi.  If vaccine for these diseases are to be used and how often, depend on the use and level of exposure to your horses.

Vaccines used occasionally for specific risk horses would include EPM, Potomac Horse Fever, Rota Virus and Botulism.


1.Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis.

Encephalomyelitis Virus causes neurological diseases and is carried by birds and transmitted by mosquitoes. An annual booster is recommended. In areas were mosquitoes are active year round, many veterinarians recommend vaccinating twice a year.

2.West Nile Virus.

This disease causes potentially fatal neurological illness and is endemic in the lower 48 states.  It is carried by birds and transmitted by mosquitoes to horses.  There are three vaccines available for WNV, and all are safe and have shown good efficacy.  Horses should receive an annual booster following the initial vaccine series.


Horses are around dirt and manure all the time, so they are at risk for contamination of small wounds.  Also, if a horse has a laceration, it is important to be vaccinated.  An annual booster of tetanus toxoid in the spring is recommended.


Rabies is a fatal neurological disease of warm-blooded animals which means horses and humans. Bats, skunks, foxes, raccoons can bite a horse and pass the virus without anyone being aware. Rabies exposure and transmission occur only when the virus is introduced into bite wounds, into open cuts in skin or unto mucous membranes from saliva. While the incidence of rabies in horses is low, the disease is fatal and has considerable public health significance. It is recommended that rabies vaccine be given annually.



Horses that travel a lot and encounter other horses are at a higher risk of exposure to influenza.  It can be spread by horse to horse contact and in the air.  There are many effective influenza vaccines, the intra nasal vaccine does produce higher levels of protection in horses and we recommend that product for horses in higher exposure environments. Horses that travel frequently should be vaccinated twice a year, usually spring and fall.

2.Rhinopneumonitis  (EHV-1 and EHV-4)

This can cause respiratory problems.  It is spread through respiratory secretions.  Cough, running nose or fever are usually apparent.  Foaling, weaning, castration, transporting horses are stressors that can activate the virus. EHV-4 causes mostly respiratory disease. EHV-1 has a rare but deadly strain that is being seen more often and is receiving a lot of attention in the news. This form of the disease causes severe encephalitic,(in the brain) signs and can kill a horse quickly. It does spread from horse to horse by nasal secretions especially at shows and race tracks where many horses are housed in a small area. EHV-1 can also cause, respiratory  and  abortion . Current vaccines on the market are not labeled to protect against the rare neurologic strain. However the vaccine we are using and have used for many years appears to be protecting horses. We are recommending  horses that travel a lot (show, race, rodeo, trail horses) should be vaccinated twice a year.

3.Strep Equi .

Available vaccines do not protect entirely against Strep Equi.   There are different opinions regarding vaccinating for Strep Equi. A combination of in the muscle and intra nasal vaccine provides the best protection for horses.  It is important that you consult your veterinarian about vaccinating for Strep Equi and make an assessment of the risks and benefits of the vaccine for your horses.

To ensure that your horses receive their core vaccines annually, talk to your veterinarian and plan a vaccination strategy that is best for your horses. Vaccinations are the cornerstone of disease prevention if given correctly and in a timely manner.  If you have any questions or need specific recommendations, please call us at 785-448-6454.  We keep plenty of different vaccine products on hand for administration to horses.  If you prefer to vaccinate your own horses, we carry products for sale at very competitive prices.


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