Senior Horses Have Special Vaccination Needs

Dr. Kevin Hankins of Zoetis explains why senior horses are in a category of their own for vaccinations and care.


Does my senior horse have special vaccination needs?


Horses age, just like humans do. And with age, their bodies change (again, just like humans, but who wants to face that brazen thought?).

One significant change in senior horses, or those horses over 15 years of age, is their immune system, explains Dr. Kevin Hankins, DVM, MBA, senior technical services veterinarian for Zoetis. Senior horses can be more susceptible to disease because of their immune system’s inability to work as well as it did earlier in life. This makes vaccinations an even higher priority to help prevent disease and keep them healthy.

It’s a common misconception that senior horses, having received vaccinations for years, are already protected and haven’t the need for annual vaccinations. However, horse owners need to help ensure all their horses are well protected under a customized vaccination program, including the ones enjoying retirement in the pasture, but especially for those being transported, which is one of the largest stressors and immune suppressors.

All horses should receive annual vaccinations for core equine diseases, which include Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, rabies, tetanus and West Nile. Based on your senior horse’s lifestyle, discuss with your veterinarian whether he needs additional risk-based vaccinations, such as equine influenza, equine herpesvirus or strangles.

As your horse ages, special needs outside of vaccinations may be essential, such as:

· Pain-relieving medication or supplementation for the arthritic senior horse

· A quality senior diet developed based on the needs of their immune and digestive systems

· Routine dental care to help properly process feed and prevent colic

Horse owners need to work with their veterinarian to have an excellent plan in place to help ensure the health of their aging horse, both nutritionally and physically. Senior horses are in a special category of their own.

The broad portfolio of core and risk-based equine vaccines from Zoetis is one you can rely on. WEST NILE-INNOVATOR and FLUVAC INNOVATOR are the veterinarian’s and horse owner’s first choice for West Nile and equine influenza disease protection. To learn more, visit

Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2016, the company generated annual revenue of $4.9 billion with approximately 9,000 employees. For more information, visit

Data on file, MDI sales data for WEST NILE-INNOVATOR and FLUVAC INNOVATOR as of 12/31/16, Zoetis Inc.






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