AUTHOR: Dr. Mark Crisman, Senior Veterinarian, Zoetis Equine Technical Services
As the summer season winds down, your clients may be considering a competitive winter season or taking stock until the arrival of spring. Horse owners see their horses as family and want to provide the best care possible, so they look to you for expert advice on keeping their horses healthy and happy year-round.
The crisp fall air that ushers in the change of seasons creates an opportunity to educate horse owners on the benefits of a wellness package that includes routine vaccinations and bloodwork. It’s also an ideal time to strategize how to incorporate tools that can improve your efficiencies for a stronger work-life balance.
The following three tips will help you continue partnering with clients this fall to help their horses can live their best life possible.
1. Educate horse owners on the ‘Equine Immunization Support Guarantee’
How often have clients declined your vaccination offer, opted to buy it at the feedstore and “DIY” their horse’s fall vaccines? The retail price may be cheaper than paying a call fee and the cost of administration, but it could become more costly if there’s an issue or the horse gets sick.
Zoetis offers an Equine Immunization Support Guarantee that covers reasonable diagnostic and treatment costs up to $5,000 if a horse properly vaccinated by a veterinarian with a Zoetis antigen contracts the corresponding equine disease, including Rabies, EEE, WEE, Tetanus, West Nile Virus, Flu and Rhino.
Important to note: To qualify for the guarantee, the Zoetis vaccine must be administered according to label instructions and by a veterinarian. The horse owner may want to maintain copies of records that include vaccine administration dates and lot numbers as well. This can be a great piece of information to include in client education conversations.
When it comes to fall vaccination check-ins, it’s important to ensure that your clients’ horses have received vaccinations for the five core diseases and the top risk-based diseases:
- Educate clients on the “Perfect Pair,” Core EQ Innovator® (the first and only vaccine approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that includes all five core equine disease antigens in a single 1 mL dose) and Fluvac Innovator® (the most utilized equine vaccine in the U.S.1) vaccines.
- A study has shown that when these two vaccines were administered separately, horses generated up to 4.7 times higher influenza immune response than when given in combination.2
2. Establish a baseline
Small-animal veterinarians require annual bloodwork to establish baseline levels and to monitor for changes year-over-year. It’s an excellent idea to include comprehensive bloodwork panels in wellness visits for horses as well. Since they tend to only have a blood draw for the Coggins test, horses too can benefit from regular monitoring—especially those with metabolic diseases.
Improve your efficiency during on-site visits with the Stablelab® EQ-1 Handheld Reader when faced with a possible infectious disease outbreak or syndrome. This diagnostic tool draws fresh, whole blood straight from the syringe to provide results to your client in as little as 10 minutes.3 The blood test measures and quantifies serum amyloid A (SAA), a major acute-phase protein produced by the liver that’s a reliable biomarker for inflammation due to infection.4
The results rapidly identify which horses need further diagnostics or treatment. When you have data that can help you decide on next steps before leaving a stable or pasture, you can treat the horse quicker and streamline bloodwork efficiently to save time and money. Pro tip: It's critical to use the same type of blood sample for accurate results and avoid mixing whole blood, heparinized and serum samples.
Use Stablelab as your first line of defense when faced with biosecurity concerns, since SAA may elevate before a horse spikes a fever or shows overt signs of illness. Help your clients with multiple horses get a jump-start on treatment and isolation protocols if you identify a horse with elevated SAA concentrations (>50 µg/dL).3,4,5
3. Simplify bloodwork
Whether you’re creating a baseline for a healthy horse, diagnosing the source of a cough or checking on a newborn foal, the Stablelab device streamlines response times to identify potential health concerns.4 Ideally, when monitoring a horse, use the same lot of test cartridges (those that come from the same bag) and the same Stablelab device for consistency.
Fall is traditionally a quiet time for clients with pregnant mares, but early arrivals could show up as soon as January. A Stablelab SAA test can be used as part of a newborn foal exam or routine neonatal physical exam and allows you to use the same blood sample you pull for IgG to identify which foals need to be watched more closely or need to get started on treatment right away.5
Finally, using Stablelab on farms with endemic Rhodococcus equi in conjunction with thoracic ultrasound score and WBC can help identify which foals will likely progress and require treatment and those that will likely regress and not require treatment, thereby potentially reducing antimicrobial use by >45% without negatively impacting foal health.5
Not all bloodwork situations are alike. Here’s a guide to help you decide which protocol fits the scenario at hand for neonatal screening as well as for equine screening.6
Veterinarians and horse owners know that when their horses recognize care and dedication, they return it tenfold. Carving out space and time for routine fall wellness check-ups paves the way for greater peace of mind and proactive due diligence this season and into the next.
Connect with your Zoetis equine specialist and get set for fall vaccination season.
- The Fluvac Innovator line had the most doses sold of all equine influenza vaccine lines on the market. Animalytix Segment Data, Equine Vaccines, MAT September 2021 (Accessed November 20, 2022).
- Zoetis Inc. Data on file. Study report no. 14OREQBIO-1.
- Belgrave R, Dickey M, Arheart K, et al. Assessment of serum amyloid A testing of horses and its clinical application in a specialized equine practice. JAVMA. 2013;243(1):113-119.
- Nolen-Walston R. How to interpret serum amyloid A concentrations. AAEP Proceedings. 2015;130-137.
- Oertly M, Gerber V, Anhold H, et al. The accuracy of serum amyloid A in determining early inflammation in horses following long-distance transportation by air. AAEP Proceedings. 2017;460-461.
- McCracken, JL. Evaluation of white blood cell, fibrinogen, serum amyloid A, and ultrasonographic grade to refine a R. equi screening program. AAEP Proceedings. 2019;522-530.