Equine Preventive Care and Your Vet: So Much More Than Vaccines

Consider the benefits of including veterinarians in your horse’s preventive care this spring. Learn more in The Horse’s Spring 2024 issue.
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vaccinating a horse
Building a good working relationship with a veterinarian you trust ensures emergency veterinary care will be available and that she is familiar with your horse and his unique needs. | Courtesy Megan Kent

We may be in the thick of winter at press time, but spring will be here before we know it—and with it the traditional spring vaccines. You might have noticed some equine vaccines are available over the counter for anyone to purchase and administer. However, when a veterinarian is not involved, this approach to preventive care can be seriously detrimental to the overall health of the horse for several important reasons.

First and foremost, the relationship between an equine owner and her veterinarian is an important bond and one that should be established on a routine basis, not in an emergency. Equine veterinarians are becoming few and far between, meaning that those who are still in practice might not be able to take on new clients during emergency hours. Building a good working relationship with a veterinarian you trust ensures that emergency care is available and that the practitioner is familiar with your horse and his unique medical needs and history.

Second, vaccinations are only part of your veterinarian’s annual visit. Just like annual exams for children, complete physical examinations at these visits can help the practitioner pick up on changes in your horse’s health, such as new heart murmurs, hair and coat changes, weight gain or loss, or the development of or change in abnormal lumps or bumps. Problems are easier to manage or treat when identified early, as opposed to waiting until they are an emergency. This visit is the perfect time to discuss concerns you have, including diet, exercise, and temperament, follow up on previous emergency or sick visits, or clear up rumors you’ve heard floating around on social media

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We at The Horse work to provide you with the latest and most reliable news and information on equine health, care, management, and welfare through our magazine and TheHorse.com. Our explanatory journalism provides an understandable resource on important and sometimes complex health issues. Your subscription will help The Horse continue to offer this vital resource to horse owners of all breeds, disciplines, and experience levels.

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Dr. Kristi Gran is a 2007 graduate of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, and a board certified internal medicine specialist, having completed her residency at Purdue University in 2011. She is a partner and veterinarian at Conley & Koontz Equine Hospital in Columbia City, Indiana.

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