All horses should receive annual vaccination against the five core diseases.

By Kevin Hankins, Senior Veterinarian, Equine Technical Services, Zoetis

Spring has arrived and we know you’re eager to spend more time with your four-legged best friend. It’s important to make sure your horse is healthy and feeling his best all year. Annual vaccinations are key to ensuring your horse’s health and well-being against potentially fatal equine diseases. But what vaccines does your horse absolutely need?

Every horse is unique, and every environment is unique. To determine what vaccinations your horse needs, talk with your veterinarian first. Your veterinarian can advise you on the potential disease risks in your area, the best time for core disease vaccination and what risk-based vaccines are right for your horse.

Core Vs. Risk-based Diseases

There are two categories of diseases that pose the most serious threats to horses:

  • Core Diseases: The five core diseases include rabies, West Nile virus, Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, and tetanus. All horses are exposed to these potentially fatal diseases and need to be vaccinated annually according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
  • Risk-based Diseases: Equine influenza virus and herpesvirus are the most common risk-based diseases that your horse may need to be vaccinated against. Vaccination will vary depending on your horse’s unique lifestyle and environment.

The Danger of Core Diseases Is Real

Protect your horse from the potentially fatal core diseases every spring with Core EQ Innovator®, the first and only vaccine to protect horses against all five core equine diseases in a single injection.

Rabies 100% fatal¹
  • Horses can be exposed to rabies through the bite of infected animals: commonly bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks.
  • Preventive care through annual vaccination is the only way to protect horses against rabies — a zoonotic disease that also is a risk to you and your family.
Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) 90% fatal¹
  • Mosquitos aren’t just a nuisance —  they pose serious risks to your horse’s health.
  • It is transmitted to horses by mosquitos that have fed on infected wild birds.
Tetanus 75% fatal²
  • It is caused by bacteria present in soil that can contaminate open wounds.
Western equine encephalomyelitis 50% fatal¹
  • Like EEE, it is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.
West Nile virus 33% fatal¹
  • West Nile virus is acquired through the bite of a mosquito that previously fed on an infected bird.

Additional annual risk-based vaccinations may be needed based on your horse’s unique lifestyle and environment. Protect your horse from diseases like equine influenza, equine herpesvirus, strangles, and leptospirosis through annual vaccination.

In addition to advising on critical core and risk-based vaccinations, your veterinarian can develop the best possible preventive health care plan for your horse that includes proper diet and regular dental exams.

Use this vaccination guide as a starting point to identify your horse’s core and risk-based needs and work with your veterinarian to develop an annual vaccination plan together.

About Zoetis

Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, which are complemented by biodevices, genetic tests and precision livestock farming. 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 2019, the company generated annual revenue of $6.3 billion with approximately 10,600 employees. For more information, visit []

¹American Association of Equine Practitioners. Core Vaccination Guidelines. 2012. Accessed May 1, 2020.

² MacKay R. Tetanus. In: Sellon DC, Long M, eds. Equine Infectious Diseases. 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier 2007:368-372.

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