How often should my horse be vaccinated?


We know you’re eager to get riding this spring, but be sure your horse is ready to perform year-round. Annual vaccinations are key to ensuring your horse’s health.

To determine how often your horse should be vaccinated, Dr. Kevin Hankins, DVM, MBA, senior technical services veterinarian for Zoetis, first recommends bringing your veterinarian into the conversation.

“Every horse is unique, and every environment is unique,” said Hankins. “A veterinarian can help you to determine risk factors in your area, the best time for vaccination, and what is right for the individual animals on your farm.”

Dr. Hankins suggests horse owners discuss with their veterinarian their horse’s age, lifestyle, and his vaccine and nutritional needs to develop the best possible preventive health care plan.

Following the manufacturer’s guidelines also helps horse owners to understand how often they should booster vaccines. Animal vaccines are licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture for certain durations of immunity, which will be stated on the label.

Helpful guidelines for equine vaccinations:

• Help protect your horse from rabies by ensuring he is vaccinated annually. Horses can be exposed to rabies through the bite of infected animals, commonly bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks. Rabies is a fatal disease for your horse, and as it is a zoonotic disease is also a risk to you and your family.

• Vaccinate once a year against eastern equine encephalomyelitis, western equine encephalomyelitis and West Nile. Should mosquitoes be a problem in the area, consider vaccinating twice a year.

• Vaccinate annually for tetanus, unless the horse is wounded or undergoes surgery more than six months after receiving the initial tetanus vaccination. In this case, revaccinate immediately at the time of injury or surgery.

• Discuss additional risk-based vaccination needs annually with your veterinarian for protection against equine influenza, equine herpesvirus, strangles, leptospirosis and more.