Vaccines at Warwick Equine Clinic

Horse getting a vaccine

We are available for the vaccination needs of your horse.

As a horse owner, it can be a challenge keeping up with equine vaccination recommendations. We can tailor a vaccination program to the individual needs of your horse and lifestyle.

Here are some of the most common questions, and their answers.

How Do Vaccines Work?

Vaccines administer a very low dose of an altered pathogen to a horse so that their immune system can “learn” to fight it. When a virus or bacteria enters the animal’s body for the first time, an unvaccinated horse will not possess an immunity, but introducing the antigens of the disease via a vaccine prompts their immune system to manufacture antibodies to help fight it, explains the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Those antibodies then live in their bloodstream from then on, so should they encounter that pathogen in real life, full-strength, they will already have the tools to fight it.

Will My Horse Be 100 Percent Immune?

This is a tricky question. Some animals who receive vaccines do develop total immunity. Others only develop partial immunity. Still, if they don’t receive booster shots regularly, they may lose part or all of their previous immunity.

That’s why the concept of “herd immunity” is so important. When the entire population susceptible to a particular disease is vaccinated, the disease can’t find a foothold. Therefore, even if an animal didn’t have 100 percent immunity, it wouldn’t matter, because other animals couldn’t get infected and pass it on.

Which Vaccines Does My Equine Need?

Your horse needs “core” vaccines and may need “non-core” vaccines. Core vaccines include rabies, tetanus, the West Nile Virus and Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis. 

Depending on your horse’s lifestyle and location, your vet may recommend other vaccines as well. Immunization against influenza and equine herpes virus is recommended for racing and show horses, and is mandatory for most competition. Botulism vaccination may be indicated for at risk animals.Other vaccinations may be advisable and should be discussed with your veterinarian. We are happy to tailor a vaccination program suitable for your horse's needs.

Are There Side Effects to Vaccinating?

Occasionally. Vaccines are most often safe and well-tolerated. At most, some horses may experience a bit of mild fever or discomfort associated with the vaccine. Steps to minimize reactions can include splitting vaccines up over several visits, administering medications concurrent with vaccination to minimize reactions and mild exercise after vaccination to promote circulation to the area.

In rare cases, however, you may notice a serious allergic reaction: itching and swelling of the skin and face or anaphylactic shock. These reactions usually occur within a few minutes of vaccination and your vet will be able to administer emergency medication to treat the reaction before it can become fatal. This is one reason the veterinarian will usually stay at the farm for a few minutes after vaccination to make sure none of the vaccine recipients have a life threatening reaction.