Vaccinations for horses, ponies and donkeys
Vaccinating your horse, pony or donkey should be part of your routine preventative healthcare plan. While most competition governing bodies require up-to-date vaccinations for competing, we also strongly recommend vaccinating non-competition horses and ponies and breeding animals.
If you would like advice on vaccinating your horse, pony, or donkey, please contact our equine team who will be happy to help.
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Garston Vets’ Equiplan scheme includes influenza and tetanus vaccinations, as well as health checks, dental exams, and worming treatments. Find out more about our monthly Equiplan Bronze, Silver, and Gold benefit packages, which help you spread the cost of your horse’s routine healthcare and save money.
This is a highly contagious viral disease of the respiratory system and is caused by several different strains of the equine influenza virus. Horses can contract the disease by either direct contact with an infected horse or contaminated environment or air. The virus is incubated for 1-3 days, so the spread is very rapid.
Following a recent outbreak of influenza, the recommendation is that all equines are vaccinated against this disease. Risk factors for contracting influenza are related to mixing with new horses, which is why competitions are high risk. However, any situation that involves your horse mixing with other horses such as hunting, being on a livery yard, and introducing new horses into your herd, is also high risk.
The equine influenza vaccination schedule as recommended by the BHA is:
- A primary course of 2 injections given 21-92 days apart.
- A third injection given 150-215 days (5-7 months) after the second injection.
- Annual boosters within 365 days of the previous injection thereafter.
To calculate when your animal’s next influenza vaccination is due, you can use the BHA vaccine calculator – here
Tetanus is caused by the bacteria clostridium tetani, which is present in soil and the environment. The disease is usually fatal, and all equines are very susceptible to contracting the disease from any contaminated wound. The incubation period is between 7- 21 days, so the wound is often healed by the time symptoms show.
Vaccination against tetanus is very effective, and we strongly recommend that all horses, ponies, and donkeys are vaccinated against this disease. The vaccine is often combined with influenza, so if you follow the above schedule for influenza when using a combination vaccine, your horse will be protected against tetanus as well.
When used alone, the tetanus vaccination schedule is:
- A primary course of 2 injections given 4-6 weeks apart.
- Booster given within 12 months of the second injection.
- Thereafter, the booster should be given every 2 years.
Other diseases we may vaccinate against include: Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) and Rotavirus. It is not always necessary to vaccinate for these diseases, but please contact the practice if you would like more information or advice.
Each competition governing body has its own rules relating to equine vaccination regulations. We would always advise owners to check these rules prior to entering or attending any competitions as you may be asked to show your horse’s passport in order to compete. See the below links to some of the websites where you can check current regulations.
Competition venues themselves can enforce their own rules regarding vaccinations, and you may be asked to show your passport at the showground prior to unloading your horse. We would advise all owners to check the vaccination protocol of the venue prior to attending to avoid any refusal of entry.
Whether you plan to cover or AI your mare at home or send her to stud, the recommendation is to have your mare’s vaccinations up to date. In addition, some studs will also require further vaccinations, blood tests, and swabs prior to transporting your mare or stallion to the stud.
If you are thinking of breeding from your mare or stallion, please contact us for further advice on which vaccinations or tests your horse may require prior to breeding. If you plan to send your horse to stud, we also recommend contacting the stud to ask them what requirements they have prior to arrival, and we will be happy to help you carry out their requests.