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Spring wellness exam for horses

Vaccinations, deworming, and a check of the horse's overall condition is important as we go into the warmer months

As the weather warms up you’re probably planning how you’re going to condition and use your horses. We’re also not too far away from mosquito season and the diseases they can transfer. This is an excellent time to give your horses a spring wellness exam.

Becky Bott is an extension equine specialist at South Dakota State University. She says your veterinarian will be examining the overall health of the animal.

"A good examination will be a comprehensive exam looking at the body systems. They’ll listen to the lungs and the heart, they’ll look at mucus membranes and assess the overall health of your horse," says Bott. "It’s also a good time to talk with them about your intended use of the horse so that they can assess the health of the horse with that in mind."

In the spring, a blood test called a “Coggins test” is typically done to detect equine infectious anemia, which is a serious viral disease.

You should also discuss vaccinations. Bott says according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, there’s a list of core vaccinations and a list of risk-based vaccinations.

"Core vaccinations are those that we should give to every horse according to the veterinarians and that would include tetanus, rabies, West Nile, and Eastern and Western encephalomyelitis," says Bott. "The risk-based vaccinations are those that are determined by your geographical location or the intended use of your horse and how likely they are to be co-mingling with other horses or animals."

Also set up a deworming schedule with your veterinarian. He or she will determine what the worm burden is in your herd and if there are any high carriers.

Be sure to discuss any concerns during the annual exam. This could include eating habits, lethargy, changes in disposition, or a horse’s behavior around other horses.  

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