During a spring check-up, discuss your plans for the upcoming
season and have your veterinarian
do a wellness exam to evaluate your
horse’s general health and body condition, as well as soundness.
She can advise you on your
horse’s feeding plan and give recommendations for preventive care and
appropriate parasite control. It’s also
a good time to have your vet administer spring immunizations.
/ Vaccinations /
Many viral diseases coincide with
the season, since mosquitoes
transmit equine encephalomyelitis
(Eastern and Western forms) and
West Nile virus.
When horses intermingle during
competition and training, it presents
an opportunity for organisms to pass
from an infectious carrier horse that
may not even be showing signs of
illness to a susceptible individual.
This is particularly true of respiratory viral infections, like influenza
or rhinopneumonitis. Protection
against these viruses is included in
the spring vaccine series.
Tetanus vaccinations are given
annually and tend to be included in
the springtime vaccination group.
With increased spring activity of
wildlife, such as skunks and raccoons, it’s ideal timing to guard
against rabies, another core vaccine.
In areas of the country where
tick-borne Lyme disease is prevalent,
a vaccine is recommended. While
it’s currently only available with
labeling for dogs, the seriousness of
such an infection may warrant its
use in horses.
/ Coggins /
In addition to immunizations, a spring
vet visit also includes “Coggins” testing
for equine infectious anemia (EIA),
which is potentially transmitted by
large biting flies.
Travel across state lines requires
a negative Coggins test, and many
clinics and barns require this for entry
onto the grounds. Because there is no
vaccine for EIA, the only means of
controlling transmission of this virus is
via testing to identify carrier horses.
The Coggins test should be
repeated annually, although some
states require a negative Coggins test
within six months of entry.
/ Parasite Control /
With warming springtime temperatures, there is also an increased risk of
exposure to internal parasites.
This is an ideal time to have your
vet perform fecal egg counts to
identify the parasite load each horse is
carrying, and how well the deworming
program done (or not done) during
the winter has worked.
It’s also a good way to find out if a
particular horse is a “high shedder” or
“low shedder” of parasite eggs. A fecal
Spring is an ideal time to administer
vaccinations for optimal immunity
against respiratory and insect-borne