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Do you vaccinate your old animals?

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  • Do you vaccinate your old animals?

    I am organizing appointments for annuals for my dogs and horses today. When discussing my 11yr old dog and 26yr old horse the vet said they didn't need them anymore as they have had them every year for many years.
    What do you do?

  • #2
    Well, the old dog may not need distemper and the horse is past strangles but how about rabies? Down here there is no relaxing the rabies requirement due to age. PHF and some of the others are nasty if they catch them, not sure if age and multiple vaccines over the years is going to help-and some of the nastiest diseases are new shots, only been around a few years.

    I'd keep at least some of them up if there is alot of traffic at your barn, lots of horses in and out or going to shows. Likewise if the dog is out and socializing, you would still want some basics.

    My barn requires annuals on any horse due to high traffic (we are skipping the strangles though with the 20 year old horse). My at home cats, however, never leave the house so they just get the initial series and then anything required should they actually need to go to the vet. Like once every 5 years or so.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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    • #3
      I only vaccinate my dog for rabies now. She is 11 and had yearly shots up until she was 8 and then we stopped.

      My horses just get EWT WNV and Anthrax. I would assume that those vaccines only last a year...so I still give it to them. For the cost ($32 per horse), I just pay it and sleep easy. I don't think it could hurt to do it anyway. I don't vaccinate for flu and strangles and I would think those things would be something a horse could build up immunity to if vaccinated enough times.
      My horses past and present....
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgMOjxvLMJo

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      • #4
        Until some good evidence is published specifying when horses (or dogs) no longer require vaccination, and which vaccinations are OK to skip, I'll keep on vaccinating mine. I might think differently if I had a horse who's had problems with vaccines, but so far I've been lucky in that regard.

        An old horse is arguably more vulnerable to infectious disease AND the complications thereof than a young, healthy one. I'd prefer to keep them profected, give them the benefit of the doubt, barring a very good reason and/or really good evidence to NOT do so.

        I don't vaccinate for flu and strangles and I would think those things would be something a horse could build up immunity to if vaccinated enough times.
        You would be incorrect in your thinking when it comes to flu, which is a constantly mutating virus. Strangles, yes, I believe there is some evidence that horses can build up immunity, but flu? Nope. Viruses are the smartest of all the bugs, but fortunately also the easiest to vaccinate for. The more complicated the bug, (think EPM, Lyme, etc.) the more difficult to get a safe, effective vaccine. The exception being things like HIV which are just so freakishly smart they're able to elude efforts to make a good vaccine. Apropos of nothing, of course, in terms of old horses.
        Click here before you buy.

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        • #5
          11YO dog of what breed? What activity level/exposure?

          Things like lepto, bordatella (kennel cough), lymes? To give or not give really to me depends on what my dog's exposure level is. You could always run titers to see where your dog is at from an immunity standpoint.

          As for the horse...again...what's the exposure level? 26 is not necessarily the end of the line. And for things like EEE/WEE, Tetanus, Rabies, West Nile, PHF, Flu/Rhino....boy, I still think I'd be vaccinating. Or again, at least do titers.

          No vaccine is 100% guaranteed to ward off infection but I sure like the odds a little better. Especially for an older pet whose immune system may be a little more compromised due to age.

          But...I'm not a vet nor do I play one on TV.
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

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          • #6
            I do mine also, except for Boleem, as he is IR and anything can set off a founder. He's 26. BUT...he lives in a stall with small paddock and I have a fly spray system, so bug borne disease don't have much of a chance. His housing limits his exposure to rabies and tetanus as well. He's on a prepared forage, so that reduces chance of botulism. But we pull titres on him each year to see how he's faring re: immunity for Flu, Rhino, etc. As a heavily campaigned show horse, he's probably built an immunity to lots of viruses as well.

            My others, many as old as him, who live out most of the time, still get all their vaccs. Better to be safe than sorry...esp. on rabies, tetanus and botulism, which are almost always fatal.
            www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
            "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
            Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks for your speedy responses!

              I guess my vet was just offering a way to keep costs down... but I have no problem paying the $$ if their is still need. I have never owned animals this old before so I really just don't know. I have worked with horses this age and older who live in a boarding stable where shots are mandatory so it has never come up.

              Dog is a Lab X - active farm dog with moderate lameness issues but no other issues.

              Horse is a TB - fully retired at a small private 6 horse race breeding farm (2-3 foals/year that are sold before racing age). The owner of that farm says it is up to me/the vet. Edited to add that he was a very heavily campaigned horse until he was about 20.

              Thanks again!

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              • #8
                The only animal in our family that has stopped getting something because of age is our 20 year old house cat. She gets so stressed by car rides that it just isn't worth putting her through it for the trip to the vet. If she were an outside cat, or something like a dog that had to be walked- we'd pay to have the vet come to the house to do her- but inside it just doesn't seem worth it. My 26 year old mare gets everything she ever got, including strangles and botulism and whatever else the vet thinks might help her fight off an illness. She's never had a bad reaction to one, so I don't see any reason to worry about giving her whatever is out there. I will gladly do them less often, but not until the vaccines are actually approved for longer time periods (which I think a few should be).

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                  Until some good evidence is published specifying when horses (or dogs) no longer require vaccination, and which vaccinations are OK to skip, I'll keep on vaccinating mine. I might think differently if I had a horse who's had problems with vaccines, but so far I've been lucky in that regard.

                  An old horse is arguably more vulnerable to infectious disease AND the complications thereof than a young, healthy one. I'd prefer to keep them profected, give them the benefit of the doubt, barring a very good reason and/or really good evidence to NOT do so.



                  You would be incorrect in your thinking when it comes to flu, which is a constantly mutating virus. Strangles, yes, I believe there is some evidence that horses can build up immunity, but flu? Nope. Viruses are the smartest of all the bugs, but fortunately also the easiest to vaccinate for. The more complicated the bug, (think EPM, Lyme, etc.) the more difficult to get a safe, effective vaccine. The exception being things like HIV which are just so freakishly smart they're able to elude efforts to make a good vaccine. Apropos of nothing, of course, in terms of old horses.

                  I know they constantly update the human flu vaccine as the virus changes...do you know if they do the same for horses? I would assume they would have to but have never read anything on it.

                  Anyway, I would still vaccinate unless your horse has had reactions in the past. I have a 21 year old dachsund who never leaves the house except to go to the bathroom outside...I only give her a rabies shot every three years and that's it. I also have a soon to be 21 year old horse. He gets all the regular vaccines since he spends a good deal of time outside and our barn isn't 'closed' (BO shows a ton all across the country).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                    Strangles, yes, I believe there is some evidence that horses can build up immunity, but flu? Nope.
                    Where is this "evidence"? During an outbreak I went through at a "private" boarding barn all of the horses, including those in their 20's, came down with it.

                    In fact, the two oldest (23 & 25) were the sickest; the 25 year old died (actually strangled before the vet could get there to perform a tracheostomy) and the 22 year old wound up needing chondroid surgery ($5,000) a few months later. This one came with in a few minutes of needing a trach as well. My take on it is when the swollen glands causing the extreme labored breathing finally burst, massive amount of pus flooded the guttural pouch (left side) resulting in multiple guttural pouch concretions.

                    IMO, the belief that only young horses get Strangles is not only wrong but extremely dangerous. The best horse I ever owned would be alive today (dead at age 14 from multiple complications of Strangles) if I had not been dissuaded from vaccinating my two by my vets.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't vaccinate the house cats except for rabies from the time they're 3 or so on. That's my choice and I keep their exposure to anything down - I wouldn't do rabies either, except it is the law and I don't want the cats destroyed if someone is visiting and gets bitten.

                      We stopped vaccinating my old Aussie at the age of 8 or 9. It was the vet's recommendation, and one I agreed with.

                      My oldest horse is 23, and I'll keep vaccinating him. I take in enough fosters that I might have something come through..
                      Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

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                      • #12
                        I certainly haven't done a literature search on the topic and am not a vet but streptococcal infections in general are just a different animal than viral infections, and people (at least) can develop some degree of resistance to/immunity from streptococcal infections with the passage of time. I agree that there is probably not much to the old belief that "only young horses get strangles", and wasn't intending to endorse that.
                        Click here before you buy.

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                        • #13
                          Regarding strangles...

                          From everything I've read, they say that most horses will develop an immunity to strangles after an infection but that only lasts about 5 years.

                          My vet has been recommending for us to NOT vaccinate for strangles if the horse has been exposed because it can actually make the organism more virulent...risk of bastard strangles, etc.

                          It's one that I've kind of been mulling over as vaccination season approaches.
                          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            We're planning on checking titers this year for strangles in the hopes of not having to give the strangles vaccine. I am curious to see if the 21 year old, who has been immunized many, many, times, will have a high titer. The problem with the titers is that they are expensive (approx $90 per horse), and I can't find any literature that says how long a high titer stays protective. If that $90 titer is high, and means I don't have to give strangles vaccine for 2 years, it was financially worthwhile. If it only means the horse is protected for 6 months, it isn't worth the money and effort.

                            Eventually, I hope we will have studies that show how often we really need to immunize the old guys. Until then, we will continue following the schedules from the aaep website.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              my 22 year old gelding only got rabies west nile, EEE this year. he will not be leaving the property and since west nile is around this are she felt it was better to vaccinate against mosquito born diseases. other then those she said he should be fine.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                What about tetanus vaccine, Skip? My understanding is that horses don't get a long lasting immunity from the vaccine. Humans usually get at least 10 years protection from the tetanus vaccine after getting their initial series. If you have any evidence that old horses get long lasting immunity after a certain number of doses of tetanus vaccine, I would like to see it. I would love to give fewer vaccines, but need some evidence before I defer any of the core vaccines.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  vet did not recommend tetanus.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Skip, the AAEP refers to tetanus as being a core vaccine that every horse should have. I would ask the vet why s/he didn't recommend tetanus vaccine. If s/he gives you some citations from articles in vet journals stating that after x number of doses, tetanus vaccine isn't necessary, all of us can save the money on vaccines for our oldsters. I don't like giving vaccines to my 21 year old. However, I'm afraid to not do it if he needs them. I would have trouble living with myself if something happened to him because I didn't give him vaccine. Now, if something happens to the old TB who loves to give me a hard time, I don't think I would feel any guilt!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=10474

                                      Here's a relevant article from The Horse. Not terribly helpful as they do some double-speak (less may be more with older equines as vaccines seem to lose efficacy and also there appears to be an increased risk of vaccine "breaks"...where the vaccinated horse becomes ill, but then they go on to recommend that some immune-compromised horses like those with cushings be vaccinated more frequently). I guess you can flip a coin.

                                      I for one am super-suspicious of vaccines. Don't get me wrong, I think they are one of the greatest medical advances of our time. But I can tell you after having a horse have a serious reaction to a vaccine, these companies keep adverse event reports locked down like they are matters of national security and that does not give me a warm fuzzy feeling. I use common sense, and vaccinate for what is required and what I feel is necessary, with imput from a vet I trust. And NO Fort Dodge.

                                      There is hope on the horizon for flu vaccines. They have finally located the common denominator. Think of the virus like a ball on a stick. The ball on the end is constantly mutating and changing, hence different strains. They have discovered that the stick remains constant though, and are currently working on a vaccine that works on that premise. I hope it carries over to equine medicine. It beats the hell out of the current system where they build a vaccine to work for last year's virus, which is most likely obsolete by the time it hits production.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        My Old Geezer is 37 and we vaccinate him for everything there is; the only thing I don't do is pull a Coggins because he'll never leave the farm. I figure it's just like human seniors: the immune system is apt to be a little compromised to begin with and any illness is likely to be more severe for them. It's why when there are shortages of human vaccines we give them to little kids and senior citizens first.

                                        The other 3 horses in his herd do go off the farm for lessons and shows. Any of them could inadvertently bring something home that they'd just shrug off but that could completely pull the Old Geezer down.

                                        And tetanus? An old piece of wire or the odd nail can happen to any animal, any age.
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