McDavitt Veterinary Clinic

Wellness Care

The key to optimal health is the prevention and early detection of disease.  As part of our routine care we provide physical examinations, vaccinations, deworming, Coggins testing, and dental care.  At the time of service we recommend discussing any issues you may have with your horse including nutritional needs, exercise regimens, training programs and behavioral issues, geriatric care, etc.  We also provide advanced dentistry with power dental equipment.
Vaccines are preparations of killed or modified antigens that are introduced into the body to produce immunity.  Most vaccines are administered initially as a two-shot series and then annually or semiannually.  The vaccine recommendations listed below are tailored to our practice and geographic location, and follow the guidelines of the AAEP.  Vaccination protocols should be customized to fit your horse's age, lifestyle, and risk factors; therefore it is important to work with your veterinarian to develop an effective vaccination strategy. 
Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis: Encephalomyelitis is caused by a virus, which is transmitted by mosquitos. The virus causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.  The vaccine is very effective against the disease. The protection lasts 6 months, therefore we recommend administering the vaccine in the spring, and again in the fall if your horse will be traveling to a warmer climate in the winter.
Tetanus Toxoid: Tetanus is a disease caused by a specific toxin of a bacillus (Clostridium tetani) which usually enters the body through wounds. It is characterized by spasmodic contractions and rigidity of some or all of the voluntary muscles (especially of the jaw, face and neck). The bacteria is found in horse manure and soil. The vaccine is very effective and administered once yearly. The vaccine is boostered in case of laceration, surgery, or pentrating wounds.

Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease that infects the nervous system of  mammals. It is transmitted through contact with the saliva of infected animals. It is 100% fatal. The vaccine is given once yearly and is very effective.
West Nile Virus: West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitos. The virus causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Horses should be vaccinated in the spring; however, horses that travel to warmer climates in the winter should be boostered again in the fall.
Rhinopneumonitis: Rhinopneumonitis (EHV-1, EHV-4) is a highly contagious herpesvirus which causes respiratory infections, abortions, and inflammation of the spinal cord. The vaccine is not 100% effective and the protection is relatively short-lived.  Pregnant mares should be vaccinated at 5, 7, and 9 months of gestation with a killed EHV-1 vaccine (Pneumabort K).  Most horses should be vaccinated every 6 months, although some premises may require more frequent vaccination (i.e. racetracks).  Young horses, horses that travel, and horses in contact with many other horses are at increased risk.  The vaccine does not protect against the neurologic form of the disease.
Influenza:  Influenza is a highly contagious virus that causes fever and respiratory infection. The vaccine is not 100% effective and the protection is relatively short-lived. Most horses should be vaccinated every 6 months, although some premises may require more frequent vaccination (i.e. racetracks).  Young horses, horses that travel, and horses in contact with many other horses are at increased risk.
Potomac Horse Fever (PHF): Potomac Horse Fever is caused by the parasite Ehrlichia risticii. Horses are infected through small land snails and aquatic insects that carry the parasite. It is not contagious and occurs more commonly in wet areas. The disease causes high fever, laminitis, and severe diarrhea. The vaccine is fairly effective and is administered once yearly in the spring. It may be administered more frequently in problem areas.
Strangles:  Strangles is a highly contagious bacterial disease caused by Streptococcus equi. It causes high fever, abscessed lymph nodes, and respiratory infection. Complications may include guttural pouch infections, sinus infections, purpura hemorrhagica, laryngeal paralysis, and bastard strangles. There is a modified live intranasal vaccine and a killed intramuscular vaccine. Vaccination against S. equi is recommended on premises where strangles is a persistent endemic problem or for horses that are expected to be at high risk of exposure.  Vaccination does not always prevent disease, however, appropriate vaccination may reduce the incidence of disease and attenuate the severity of clinical signs.  Vaccination may be performed at 6-12 month intervals based on risk assessment. 
Deworming Recommendations

Effective prevention and treatment of equine parasite infections is essential for optimal health.  Signs of clinical parasitism include poor body condition, rough haircoat, diarrhea, colic, and feed inefficiency.  Subclinical parasitism is more difficult to detect as it is not clinically apparent; however, the unseen damage caused by migrating parasites can seriously affect a horse’s health and performance.  Horses are exposed to parasites daily, even in the best-maintained pastures and stables.  Therefore, an effective deworming program coupled with proper pasture management is key to parasite control and overall health. There are many different equine parasites; however there are a few major disease-causing classes that deworming protocols are targeted against. They include large strongyles, small strongyles, tapeworms, pinworms (Oxyuris equi), bots, and roundworms (Parascaris equorum). There are two basic methods for deworming horses:  Purge deworming programs (administering paste dewormers periodically) and daily dewormer programs (daily dewormer in feed with paste deworming twice yearly).

1.  Paste Deworming Protocol:
When a purge (paste) product is administered, it is effective against a horse’s existing parasite load.  It is generally recommended to rotate the drug classes of anthelmintics (dewormers) in purge deworming programs. The frequency of deworming and drug type may vary depending on the horse's age, time of year, and management conditions; however, the goal is to decrease the development of resistance while providing optimal parasite control.  In general, we recommend deworming in the fall after the first freeze with an ivermectin/praziquantel (Equimax or Zimectrin Gold) or moxidectin/praziquantel (Quest Plus) dewormer, and again in the spring with ivermectin or moxidectin.  In between these spring and fall dewormings, we recommend testing fecal samples and deworming according to specific parasite load, or rotating dewormers.  Please feel free to discuss deworming programs with our equine veterinarians to allow us to customize a program appropriate for your horse and management situation.   When rotating dewormers, it is also important to note the active drug ingredient, not the brand name.  For example, there are several different brand names of ivermectin, such as Zimectrin, Equell, Ivercide, etc.                                             

2. Daily Deworming Protocol:
Daily dewormers represent a different approach to deworming. Since your horse may ingest parasites daily, a daily dewormer is intended to kill these parasites daily – before these parasites can migrate, cause inflammation of body tissues, and compromise health and condition.  Although treatment with daily dewormers won’t eliminate parasites completely, subclinical damage from parasite migration is reduced and prevented. Daily dewormers contain pyrantel tartrate.  It is recommend to administer this dewormer daily, and administer paste dewormer in the fall (ivermectin/praziquantel or moxidectin/praziquantel dewormer) and in the spring (ivermectin or moxidectin).

Pasture management:
Proper manure and pasture management is also critical to controlling gastrointestinal parasites.  Management practices such as limiting the number of horses per acre, timely manure removal, allowing pastures to lie vacant for periods of time, grazing other species of animals, and avoiding spreading manure on pastures will help to decrease the parasite burden on pastures and reduce re-infestation of your horse.