Preventative Medicine and Nutritional Counseling
This broad area of equine medicine involves services that the equine practitioner can provide that help prevent disease and to recognize abnormalities early so that disease can be managed most effectively. Our preventative medicine program involves vaccination, parasite control and nutritional management. In most instances, a complete physical examination will be performed in conjunction with annual vaccinations. Vaccinations are tailored to the individual situation, based on disease risk, cost of vaccine, possible adverse side effects and effectiveness of the vaccine.
In the Northeast, the infectious diseases with the highest mortality rates are Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), West Nile viral encephalomyelitis (WNV), rabies and tetanus. Thus, the “core” vaccinations are Eastern and Western encephalomyelitis and tetanus (EWT), WNV and rabies. Since the encephalitides are transmitted by mosquitos, these vaccines are given in the spring so that immunity is boosted during the insect season.
Horses housed in boarding or breeding stables, that are competed in sporting events or shipped by commercial carriers are at high risk of exposure to contagious respiratory diseases. Of these, equine influenza, equine rhinopneumonitis (equine herpes virus, EHV) and equine strangles (streptococcus equi) are the most common. Since the strangles vaccination has a relatively high incidence of side effects (low-grade fever, malaise, etc.) it is reserved for instances of likely exposure.
Potomac Horse Fever, caused by the bacteria Neorickettsia risticii occasionally occurs in Connecticut, primarily in areas along the Connecticut River. Because of the low incidence, routine vaccination for this disease may not be warranted.
Equine Infectious Anemia is a fatal disease of horses that is controlled by eliminating carrier horses from the general horse population. The “Coggins Test” is a blood test that is used to identify carrier horses, which are required to be either quarantined or slaughtered. Most organized competitions, interstate transportation of horses and many boarding stables require proof of a negative Coggins Test. As this test is generally required annually, it is often performed at the time of vaccinations in the spring. Most Coggins tests are now submitted through an online database which allows photo identification of your horse as well as easy access as an owner.
The annual physical examination is the cornerstone of the preventative medicine program. In addition to an evaluation of the body systems, a fecal examination is used to determine if the deworming program is adequately controlling internal parasites. The veterinarian can also make specific recommendations for feeding the healthy horse, the geriatric horse, or the horse with medical problems. Some endocrine and metabolic diseases are well-managed with diet alone.