The days are still long and hot, but cool weather is coming soon! And as the year flies by, don’t forget about your horse’s fall vaccination appointment.
Fall is a great time to reassess body condition, teeth, nutrition, and overall health before heading into the cold of winter. Some points that we take note of at this appointment include:
- Your horse’s overall condition: Have they gained or lost a lot of weight this summer? Are they still bright and eager to do their normal job? Do they have signs of healthy cardiovascular and respiratory function? Fall is a good time to discuss all of these things before the harsher weather of winter. Fall is also a good time for testing horses with suspected metabolic condition, as they are more at risk for laminitis in fall due to higher circulating hormones and increased sugar concentration in grass on the frosty morning/warm afternoon days of fall.
- Oral exam: Spring and fall are a great time to check your horse’s dentition. Most horses need their teeth floated to address sharp enamel points or developing hooks at least once yearly, and horses with missing teeth or malocclusions may need this more often. A horse with a comfortable mouth will perform better, eat more efficiently, and be at less risk for emergencies like choke and colic.
- Parasites: If a fecal egg count was not performed in spring, and/or if your horse is a “moderate” or “high” shedder, the fall vaccine appointment is a great time for us to assess parasite load by taking a fecal egg sample. This will help guide us in giving accurate deworming recommendations for your horse. The fecal egg count should be performed a minimum of 8 weeks (ideally 10 or more) after the last deworming, as it otherwise should (hopefully!) be zero if the dewormer used was effective. If the fecal egg count is high, we will usually recommend a recheck test 2-4 weeks after deworming to ensure the dewormer is effective.
Typically, we also vaccinate for rabies at this time and give a 6-month booster for rhinopneumonitis and Influenza (aka the flu/rhino vaccine).
Although rabies is rare in horses, it is potentially fatal and can be very dangerous to humans that are exposed. We recommend an annual vaccine for all horses. Giving this vaccine in the fall allows us to decrease the stress on the immune system in spring by giving this non-mosquito-based vaccine later.
Rhinopneumonitis and influenza are both upper respiratory viruses that can affect horses year-round — especially those that are travelling, showing, or exposed to other horses. Because of the prevalence of this disease and short vaccine protection, we recommend vaccinating in both spring and fall.
As always, please call Premier Equine at 888-860-0244 with any questions or concerns, and let us know when you are ready to schedule the fall appointment! We look forward to talking with you soon.