Do Horses Need Rabies Vaccines?

Rabies infection is not common with horses—only 30 to 60 horses catch rabies every year. However, rabies is difficult to diagnose and leads to painful and deadly symptoms. Infected horses suffer from lameness, colic, paralysis, incontinence, fever and depression, and most die within three to five days of infection. So, even with the low odds, it is worth it to vaccinate for rabies if your horse is at risk. Here are four circumstances in which your horse vet in Cannon Falls, MN will likely recommend a rabies vaccine:

  • Endemic area: If your horse stables in an area known for rabies infections, that increases their chances, especially if they spend most of their time in a pasture. Normally, horses do not contract rabies from predator attacks. Instead, they inspect animals entering their stall or pasture and sustain a bite when they get too close. If you hear reports of raccoons, coyotes or other animals coming up with rabies infections, it’s a good idea to follow up with a rabies vaccine for your horse. Even if rabies reports are not common, consider vaccinating for rabies if you board or live in an area with high wildlife populations.
  • Travel: Horse vets recommend all horses in contact with humans receive rabies vaccinations, and some states take this very seriously. If you travel to other states for shows and clinics, rabies vaccinations are required. Since you are staying in less familiar surroundings and do not know your environment for certain, a rabies vaccination is also a reasonable precaution. While COVID-19 is keeping us all at home for now, prepare for future travel by remaining current on your horse’s rabies vaccine.
  • Pregnancy: Vaccinating mares for rabies before breeding them is recommended by vets. The immunity spreads to the foal, which puts them at an advantage when they receive their first booster at three to six months old. If you live in a higher-risk area for rabies, vets can check foals for antibodies and confirm whether immunity is transferred from the mare. Knowing that allows a more accurate and effective vaccination schedule and keeps your new foal healthy.
  • Exposure: Vaccinations are incredibly effective, but if your horse was knowingly exposed to rabies, treatment includes revaccination. Once treated, vets watch the horse for other symptoms for at least 45 days as a precaution. While this may seem stressful, the process is worse if the horse was not previously vaccinated. Exposed horses who did not receive a rabies vaccine must be monitored for symptoms for at least six months. This experience is much more stressful and more likely to end badly. You sweat in the unknown until you know for sure your horse is not infected. So, it is best to vaccinate your horse for rabies as part of her preventative health routine and face fewer worries should she sustain a bite from rabid wildlife.

If you seek a horse vet in Cannon Falls, MN, Cannon Veterinary Services Ltd. is here for you. We offer vaccination services, including the rabies vaccine, if it will give you peace of mind. Call us today to schedule your horse’s exam and vaccination appointment.