You need not be a veterinarian to have a fundamental understanding of issues surrounding horse health. By having a working knowledge of what contributes to a horse’s overall good health and what problems to watch out for you can greatly enhance his well-being. Let’s take a look at some of the basic things you can do to foster your equine’s vitality by following a program of equine vaccinations and preventative care.
Vaccinations are a number one priority and it is vital that you keep to their schedule. Foals should be given a battery of vaccines at about 5 months of age. Follow up booster shots should be given 1 month later. Equine herpes and influenza are 2 main concerns.
Equine influenza is one of the most common viruses that affect horses. It is extremely contagious and afflicts horses across the globe. The first vaccine and its boosters are generally given through the nose. Not only will the vaccine help prevent flu spreading throughout a stable, it will also help lessen the severity of cases that are contracted.
The Equine Herpes Virus-4 causes cases of Rhinopneumonitis. Horses not inoculated are at a high risk. Symptoms include fever, discharge from the nose and loss of appetite. It has also been known in some cases to cause abortions in mares.
Other vaccinations should not be ignored. It is strongly recommended that horses should be vaccinated against potentially devastating and deadly diseases. An inoculation schedule should be in place for the following: Eastern and Western Encephalitis, tetanus, rabies, Potomac Horse Fever, and West Nile Virus.
Keeping up horse health goes beyond maintaining inoculations. One main preventative step you can take is watching dental health. Horses’ teeth continue to grow even as adults. That fact, couples with the chewing motion they have, pointed edges on teeth can occur. This could lead to cuts on the cheeks and tongue which are not only painful but may also lead to infection. This problem can be avoided by filing away the points.
Two other preventative measures are sheathing and blood tests. First, a CBC, or Complete Blood Count, can be a good indicator of the horse’s overall well-being. This is particularly true for older or special needs horses. This test can be helpful for early detection of liver and kidney problems. Additionally, new-born foals should have their blood immunoglobulin levels checked within twelve hours of birth to make sure that antibodies from its mother’s milk have been transferred.
Often overlooked but very important is sheath cleaning. The sheath and penis is often a source of various cancer and illness. Geldings and stallions should be examined annually. Horses are usually tranquilized during a full examination of the penis, sheath and urethra as well as for the removal of excess and possibly harmful smegma.
Vigilance and veterinarians are two prime ingredients in keeping your horse healthy, but maintaining good horse health extends beyond vaccination schedules and check-ups. Horses should have a ready supply of fresh water and quality feed. Its shelter should be adequate for any form of harsh weather. Also not to be neglected are regular hoof care, grooming and frequent exercise.