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Looking After Your Vaccinating your horse

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Vaccinating your horse

It’s quite common in the UK for horses to be vaccinated against tetanus and equine influenza. Vaccination is the only proven method of protecting against these diseases, which can severely affect the health and performance of susceptible and untreated horses, or even prove fatal in the case of tetanus.


Often referred to as lock jaw, Tetanus is caused by the bacterium - Clostridium tetani.  This bacteria lives in soil and can be found in quite high numbers in some areas. If contaminated soil enters a wound, for example at times of surgery or a through nail prick injury, the bacteria thrive and begin to grow at an alarming rate as the environment, which is low in oxygen, suits their growing needs very well.  After 7-21 days, toxins are released by the bacteria that adversely affect the nervous system resulting in stiffness, muscle spasms and eventually rigidity. Anti-toxin can be administered at the time of injury, but this is sometimes not enough for susceptible individuals and fatalities can occur. Vaccination is the only way you can protect your horse against tetanus. 

Equine Flu

Equine flu is caused by an influenza virus, much like human flu, which affects the upper and lower respiratory tract. The virus is transmitted via infectious air borne particles in the atmosphere and the infection spreads rapidly from horse to horse. Around three days following contact with the virus, susceptible unvaccinated animals develop a high temperature, cough, nasal discharge, reduced appetite and swollen glands behind the jaw. With medical treatment, most horses will recover from this condition but it can severely affect their health and performance. Vaccination reduces your horse’s susceptibility to the virus and is a must if you wish to compete your horse.

Vaccination schedules

There are a number of different vaccination schedules available to protect your horse against tetanus and/or equine influenza. Doolittle’s Dispensary recommends that all horse owners discuss their requirements with their veterinary surgeon. There are also other diseases which can vaccinated against and again we recommend speaking to your vet to see if your horses needs any additional vaccinations.