As the Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zhou (also known as Zhuangzi) once wrote, “Horses have hooves to carry them over frost and snow; hair, to protect them from wind and cold. They eat grass and drink water, and fling up their heels…Such is the real nature of horses.” Though Zhuang Zhou wrote this in the 4th century BC, the sentiment still rings true with many people who know, love and work with horses today. In addition to recognizing all the elements that make horses so wonderful, it is also important to consider how to protect the health and well-being of your horse so it can live a long and happy life. Regular trips to the veterinarian, thorough research on your horse’s breed and understanding of the benefits of different types of vaccination can be incredibly useful for you and your horse. You can find information and even order horse vaccines online. Here are a few reasons why tetanus vaccines, in particular, can be an important part of your stable’s medical kit.
What is Tetanus?
Tetanus can be a deadly disease caused by the spores of Clostridium tetani, a bacterium that infects horses through wounds, punctures and incisions from surgery. It can also particularly affect mares who have recently given birth. Due to its life-threatening potential and widespread range, tetanus vaccines are considered to be an essential part of a horse’s vaccination schedule by veterinarians.
Where is Tetanus?
Unfortunately for horse owners, tetanus bacteria is widespread on farms and at stables because it thrives in horse manure. The bacteria also live in the digestive tracts of horses and can survive in soil. Therefore, horses are frequently at risk for contracting the disease, especially if they have wounds on their feet or legs. This is why it is so important that horses receive regular vaccinations for tetanus.
When Should You Vaccinate for Tetanus?
The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends an annual tetanus vaccine for horses who have been previously vaccinated for tetanus. For horses with unknown tetanus vaccination history or specific needs, such as pregnancy or young age, the AAEP recommends particular intervals of more frequent vaccination. Speak to your vet and develop a specialized plan for the best vaccination plan for your horse. The tetanus vaccine is considered to be safe for horses and essential in preventing the disease from taking hold. There is some misinformation on the internet that since humans only need tetanus immunization every decade, then horses do not need to be frequently vaccinated either. Scientists say this is false and dangerous information because horses have different health needs than humans and are often at greater risk for tetanus.
What Else Can You Do to Reduce the Presence of Tetanus?
It can be a good idea to implement a regular cleaning schedule of stables and barn floors to remove manure and soiled bedding as well as to hose down flooring. Check fencing and stable doors for loose nails or wiring that could cut your horse. Finally, when brushing your horse and removing dirt from its horseshoes, look for any wounds or punctures that could harbor bacteria and treat the cuts quickly.
Tetanus can act quickly with painful and deadly consequences for your beloved horse or horses. Take the time to educate yourself about the benefits of tetanus vaccination and set up a vaccination schedule to protect your stable from tetanus. Regular cleaning of the environment your horse lives in, combined with maintenance of dangerous fences and careful inspection of your horse’s body can become valuable practices in creating a safe space for your horse to live a healthy life.