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Why Your Veterinarian Should Be The One To Vaccinate Your Horse

A vaccination given to a horse by an owner or person other than a veterinarian may not produce the desired cost savings you may be looking for or the amount of protection your horse needs. Consider the following factors before deciding to administer you purchase and administer your horse’s vaccines your self.



Anaphylactoid Reaction – This is a potentially fatal reaction to administration of any vaccine. These reactions generally occur within minutes to 12 hours and may last for several days. The signs of anaphylaxis may include hives, difficulty breathing, sweating and the horse may collapse. Medication will be needed to combat this serious situation. Your veterinarian is the person that has been trained to administer these often times lifesaving medications properly. Medications often given include: epinephrine, anti-histamines and steroids. The prompt recognition and treatment that a veterinarian brings to this unexpected event increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome, thereby preventing possible death.

Appropriate Choice of Vaccines: Many vaccines are marketed to horse owners, of course some are needed but some are not. Veterinarians are properly trained when, where and how to give the vaccine as well as the proper route. For example, some vaccines are designed to be given intranasally, while the majority of vaccines are given intramuscularly. The current vaccine status of your horse will determine which vaccines should be administered. Many factors are considered when picking which vaccine to administer to your horse. The time of year, length of protection provided by each vaccine product, your horses age, gender and health status are all important in prescribing the correct vaccine. Recent disease outbreaks in your area can change vaccination recommendations. Weanlings have a special vaccination schedule separate from adult horses. Geriatric horses often have concurrent health issues (Cushings for example) that require special vaccination guidelines.

Where Your Horse Lives is Important: Veterinarians know what diseases should be vaccinated against in a particular area. Vaccine protocols are not the same in each state and may vary from the one end of a state to another. Remember, some states border other countries where the vaccine status of horses is not known. For example, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE) is endemic in southern Mexico and Central America and is only a threat to horses in Southern Arizona if VEE is found in Central or Northern Mexico. Veterinarians are informed by State and Federal agencies when the disease becomes a threat.

Safety for You and Your Horse is Important: Veterinarians are concerned about the safety of all involved, humans and horses. Owners may not expect a dangerous physical reaction by their horse when a vaccine is administered. For the safety of all, it is best to have your veterinarian, a professional trained in proper restraint, give your horse his vaccine. Many veterinarians are also keenly aware and are able to read the behavior of a particular horse. Horses may strike, kick, rear or bite while being given a vaccine. Sometimes, even the sight of a needle may cause an undesired reaction. Horses do not mean to hurt their owners but when they are frightened, horses may injure themselves and the owner.

Government Regulations: One vaccine in particular must be given by a veterinarian only. This vaccine is for the virus that causes the disease known as Rabies. Only a rabies vaccination given by a licensed veterinarian will be recognized as valid by state and federal authorities. If the owner gives their horse the rabies vaccine, that horse is not considered a vaccinated animal by the rabies control officer. If your horse bites someone or has been bitten by another animal or even exposed to a known rabid animal, and has not been vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian there may be steps taken by disease control officers that can include a quarantine time period.

Manufacturer Guarantees: The companies that manufacture horse vaccines often offer diagnostic tests and pay for treatment if your horse becomes ill from the vaccine or becomes sick with a disease that was vaccinated for by their product. The vaccine company will only stand behind their product if your horse was vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian.

Insurance Companies: Some insurance companies may not cover your horse if he/she becomes sick or dies of a disease that could have been prevented by vaccination if there is not a medical record of administration the correct vaccine by a licensed veterinarian.

Colic Protection Plans: several companies offer a colic protection plan where they help pay for colic surgery for your horse. Companies such as Platinum Performance and SmartPak offer excellent colic protection coverage if you use their products. One requirement is yearly vaccinations and wellcare examinations, both performed by a licensed veterinarian.

Wellness Examinations: Vaccine appointments offer an excellent opportunity for wellness examinations. At Reata we require thorough wellness examinations before we administer vaccines. These examinations are offered at a considerable savings. The exam decreases the chance of vaccine reactions and improves the likelihood of adequate protection. During the visit we discuss any concerns the owner may have about their horse’s health or performance. A record is kept of each horse’s health and condition. It is our goal to provide added value by spotting and fixing small problems before they become big and expensive problems.

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Reata Equine Veterinary

Reata Equine Veterinary Group is a full-service mobile equine-only veterinary practice in Southern Arizona dedicated to providing the best medical and wellness care for your horse.

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If you call the office with an emergency during regular hours our friendly staff will listen to your emergency and provide immediate help. If the emergency happens after hours, call (520) 749-1446 and the answering machine will connect you to the veterinarian on call so that you receive the help you need.


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