It is your responsibility as an owner to ensure your horse stays healthy and fit. Maintaining the health of your horse involves more than just providing adequate exercise and the right type of food. Vaccinations play a vital role in keeping horses in optimal health.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to keep up with vaccination recommendations for horses. This is because of frequent protocol changes.
Vaccinations are the easiest and safest way to protect your horse against diseases. They give horses the ability to fight diseases by providing them with immunity and protection.
Vaccinations are not a difficult concept to understand. The immune system of a horse consists of organs and tissue cells that work together to fight harmful viruses and bacteria that frequently invade the system. When you vaccinate your horse, the following happens:
The vaccination involves the administration of a tiny, harmless amount of the disease into the horse’s system
The body produces antibodies to help fight the infection
If the disease tries to invade the horse’s body again, it will have the right antibodies needed to fight off the infection effectively
Essentially, your horse will be immune to the disease
When choosing the vaccinations to give your horse, balance the risk of side effects against the risk of disease. You do not want to overstimulate your horse’s immune system and trigger serious side effects.
The first thing you need to understand is that vaccines reduce but do not always eradicate diseases. They are a tool that horse owners should use along with bio-security practices and good management to minimize the risk of infection.
When it comes to choosing vaccinations for your horse, your veterinarian is your most valuable resource. Even if you choose to vaccinate your horse yourself, you still need to get expert input from your veterinarian on the right protocol.
It is prudent to give your horse the proper vaccinations at the right time. Some vaccines contain inactivated or killed organisms meant to stimulate the immune system. Others contain weakened versions of disease-causing organisms. These organisms trigger an immune response without harming the horse or causing disease.
The horse’s body recognizes these foreign agents and responds by producing antibodies. The house can then mount a more powerful and faster defense if it encounters the real disease-causing agents later.
You should give the immune system adequate time to respond to vaccines and build up its defenses. According to veterinarians, you should vaccinate about two weeks before you expect your horse to encounter the risk.
If you are yet to vaccinate your horse, you need to establish a protective immunity level. Depending on the vaccine, this might require a series of vaccinations spaced a few weeks apart. After this, you will need to give your horse yearly booster shots or even more often.
Do you want to learn more about vaccinations for your horse? Visit South Willamette Veterinary Clinic at our office in Creswell, Oregon. Call us at (541) 313-3352 today to schedule an appointment.