The prevention of health issues is the key to keeping your horse healthy. It is easier to prevent than to treat. In veterinarian medicine we are geared toward prevention of diseases rather than trying to treat them. Mainly it is cheaper to establish a prevention program rather than to treat diseases. Also, some diseases can be highly fatal but are easy to prevent through vaccinations. There are several aspects to a preventative medicine program. It should include an annual physical examination by your veterinarian to assess your horse's overall health and to address any health or soundness issues that may be found. Part of the annual physical exam should include a dental exam and any maintenance dental work that may need to be performed. Also, part of the preventative medicine program should be discussing a parasite control program, fecal egg counts, annual vaccinations, and Coggins(EIA) testing.
Fecal egg counts are very important to assess if you have resistance to any of the products you may be using or if you have certain horses that are chronic shredders of parasites. There are also several other environmental management procedures that can be discussed with your veterinarian that may help reduce your farms parasite load.
Annual or for some states semi-annual Coggins testing for Equine Infectious Anemia should be done as well. The Coggins test is required for the transportation of your horse, being around other horses, going to shows and competitions, and for riding in many areas like national and state parks. There can be large fines if you are caught by state officials without having a valid and current Coggins test. I can run both a regular paper Coggins test and the Global Vet Link Digital Coggins test. The digital test is by far the best way to identify your horse because it uses a picture of your horse rather than a drawing that appears on the paper Coggins test. Also, it can be accessed by you the owner anywhere and anytime you like by logging onto your MyVetLink account to download or print your Coggins test.
Finally, vaccinations are given as part of your preventative health program. There are certain core vaccines I believe every horse should be given and other additional vaccinations that are given to your horse depending on their exposure risk or geographic location. The core vaccines are what I call the "fatal diseases" like Eastern and Western Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Tetanus, and Rabies. These vaccines are highly effective at preventing these devastating diseases. I recommend that they be given at least yearly usually in early spring when exposure risk is the highest. West Nile Virus and Eastern and Western Encephalitis should be given every 6 months in warmer climates where mosquitoes are year round and are the vectors of these diseases. Rabies is given annually. Other Vaccines that are given depending on your individual horse's risk are: Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis, Strangles, Potomac Horse Fever, Botulism, and (EVA)Equine Viral Arteritis. Influenza and Rhinopneumonitis are given every 3 to 6 months depending on your horse's exposure risk. Potomac Horse Fever given annually usually in spring, but in high risk areas a second booster is recommended around mid-summer. EVA, Intranasal Strangles, and botulism are given annually. If your horse has never had vaccinations before a series of at least 2 initial booster vaccinations are required to get your horse's immunity levels up. After that usually only a single booster annual booster is required. Foals should start there initial booster vaccinations around 4 to 5 months old if they got a good immunity from their moms.
To keep you up to date on your horse's preventative medicine plan I will send out reminders when your horse is due for any of these services. My goal is to keep your horse in good health and soundness by tailoring a preventative health plan that best suits you and your horse.