Six Must-Discuss Horse Health Topics

Connect with the veterinarian on your team to help ensure yearlong equine wellness.

By Kevin Hankins, DVM, MBA, senior technical services veterinarian, Zoetis 

Does your horse receive the same vaccinations year after year?

If so, it may be time to talk with the veterinarian on your team about your horse’s unique disease risk factors and other core health needs. Your horse could be missing out on much-needed disease protection. Help ensure his health by vaccinating him annually against the five core equine diseases: Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, rabies, tetanus and West Nile. Veterinarians and horse owners continue to trust West Nile-Innovator® for core disease protection – no other vaccine has helped protect more horses against West Nile virus.1

Discuss with your veterinarian any events that could impact your horse’s well-being, and use the opportunity to expand your equine wellness knowledge.

Six key points to cover with your veterinarian:

  1. Upcoming travel: Discuss upcoming travel to determine whether there are possible disease risks prevalent in areas to which you’re traveling, as well as any event-specific health requirements. Ask also about implementing biosecurity best practices.

  2. Exposure to other horses: If your horse lives in a boarding stable or is exposed to other horses through event participation, he could be at increased risk of disease exposure for threats such as equine herpesvirus and equine influenza, which spread by aerosol transmission (coughing or sneezing) from horse to horse in distances as far as 50 yards.2 Even if your horse doesn’t travel off-property, if he is exposed to others that do, the disease risks remain, especially if he isn’t receiving the appropriate risk-based vaccinations

    Horse owners can rely on the Fluvac Innovator® line of vaccines, the most-trusted equine respiratory vaccines, to help provide your horse with broad protection against newly emerging and conventional equine influenza virus strains, as well as equine herpesvirus (EHV 1 and EHV 4). 3-9

  3. Deworming needs: Ask your veterinarian for advice on how to select the most appropriate dewormer for your horse. Your veterinarian can perform a fecal egg count (FEC) test to determine your horse’s parasite burden. No matter your horse’s FEC test results, all horses should receive a minimum of two deworming treatments per year, during spring and fall. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends targeted tapeworm treatment once a year, in the late fall or early winter after tapeworm transmission ends due to cold weather.10

    With just a single dose, Quest® Plus Gel treats and controls bots, encysted small strongyles and roundworms. Moxidectin, the active ingredient in Quest® and Quest® Plus Gel, continues to demonstrate efficacy in treating and controlling encysted small strongyles.11,* Quest Plus also contains an additional active ingredient, praziquantel, specifically targeting tapeworms. 

    Do not use Quest Gel or Quest Plus Gel in foals less than 6 months of age or in sick, debilitated and underweight horses. Do not use in other animal species, as severe adverse reactions, including fatalities in dogs, may result.

  4. Wildlife threat: Wildlife exposure is a reality for all horses, no matter location. Rabies and leptospirosis are two key diseases horses can contract from wildlife such as skunks, raccoons and bats. The result of rabies infection in any mammal – horse and human included – is always death. Due to the impact of rabies on horses as well as the risk of disease transmission to humans, all horses should be vaccinated annually.

    Leptospirosis can cause uveitis, or moon blindness (the most common cause of blindness in horses), as well as abortions and kidney failure. Horses are generally infected through exposure to the bacteria Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona, which is found in urine from infected animals, such as skunks, white-tailed deer, raccoons and opossums.12 Infected urine often is found in stagnant or slow-moving water or in contaminated soil, bedding, feed or drinking water.13,14 Genetics may play a role, too: Appaloosa, Draft and Warmblood breeds are more frequently and severely affected by Leptospira-associated uveitis than other breeds.15,16 Ask your veterinarian about Lepto EQ Innovator® – the first and only vaccine developed specifically to help prevent leptospirosis in horses.

  5. Age: Your horse’s age can play a role in his risk for disease. For example, senior horses may not be able to mount an immune response as well as earlier in life, leaving them at higher risk for exposure. Talk with your veterinarian about how your horse’s age may affect his health and well-being.

  6. Post-vaccination expectations: Occasionally, horses may react to a vaccine much like humans do, such as when we experience muscle soreness after receiving a tetanus booster. Talk with your veterinarian about normal vaccine reactions. If side effects last longer than 48 hours, or increase in severity, contact your veterinarian. While each horse is unique, it’s possible for your horse to experience mild, temporary side effects, such as:
    • Local muscle soreness or swelling
    • Fever above 101.5°F
    • Loss of appetite
    • Lack of energy or alertness

Work proactively alongside your veterinarian to develop the best possible wellness plan to ensure your horse’s health. Visit to learn more.

About Zoetis
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2016, the company generated annual revenue of $4.9 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit

For more information, contact:

Kassi Hoxmeier
Bader Rutter

1 Data on file, MDI sales data for West Nile-Innovator as of 12/31/16, Zoetis Inc.
2 The American Association of Equine Practitioners. Suspected Case of Contagious Infectious Respiratory Disease. Published 2006. Accessed January 16, 2018.
3 Data on file, Study Report No. 15EQRGBIO-02, Zoetis Inc.
4 Data on file, Study Report No. 671-02-001.R, Zoetis Inc.
5 Data on file, Study Report No. 671-08-004.R, Zoetis Inc.
6 Data on file, Study Report No. 766-09-002.R, Zoetis Inc.
7 Data on file, Study Report No. 10OREQBIO-01, Zoetis Inc.
8 Data on file, Study Report No. 14OREQBIO-1, Zoetis Inc.
9 Data on file, MDI sales data for West Nile-Innovator and Fluvac Innovator as of 12/31/16, Zoetis Inc.
10 American Association of Equine Practitioners. AAEP Parasite Control Guidelines Accessed January 16, 2018.
11 Mason ME, Voris ND, Ortis HA, et al. Comparison of a single dose of moxidectin and a five-day course of fenbendazole to reduce and suppress cyathostomin fecal egg counts in a herd of embryo transfer-recipient mares. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2014;245(8):944-951.
12 Timoney JF, Kalimuthusamy N, Velineni S, Donahue JM, Artiushin SC, Fettinger M. A unique genotype of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona type kennewicki is associated with equine abortion. Vet Microbiol. 2011;150(3-4):349-353.
13  Levett PN. Leptospirosis. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2001;14(2):296-326.
14 Spickler AR, Leedom Larson KR. Leptospirosis. factsheets.php. Updated August 2013. Accessed October 2, 2017.
15 Gerding JC, Gilger BC. Prognosis and impact of equine recurrent uveitis. Equine Vet J. 2016;48(3):290-298. doi: 10.1111/evj.12451.
16 Dwyer AE, Crockett RS, Kalsow CM. Association of leptospiral seroreactivity and breed with uveitis and blindness in horses: 372 cases (1986-1993). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1995;207(10):1327-1331.
*This study compared Quest (moxidectin) Gel with Panacur Powerpac (fenbendazole).



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