Thursday, June 12, 2014
What I Learned About Giving Equine Vaccines
I vaccinated all my horses on Monday. Everyone took it very well, being much more concerned about the plastic bag they came in than the actual needle itself. I cleaned each area twice with an alcohol swap. Scrubbing once and then the second was used in a singular swiping motion to remove any bacteria.
This is the first time I have vaccinated my own horses. I have done my own dogs for years, and I have assisted while my horses were being done. I understand about intramuscular, and I know that the injection sight must be clean for these sorts of injections. I have injected antibiotics many times, so I was not uncomfortable with what I was doing.
In the past, with a vet doing the job, I have had different reactions for the same vaccines on the same horses. One year they all reacted poorly to the shots. The next year I used a different vet and none of them reacted at all. Or if they did it was so minor I didn't catch it.
This year they reacted again. The mares more so than the geldings. The first year it was Killian that reacted the worst. This year I think it is Sassy. Trax's was pretty mild.
I did some research.....and some thinking.
This is one of the things I found:
A common mistake is to give an IM vaccine too high
in the neck, causing the vaccine to enter the nuchal ligament rather than the muscle. Also
if given too close to the skin, there can be an inflammatory reaction since skin and
subcutaneous (beneath the skin) tissues of horses are very sensitive to most vaccines.
While I was careful to make sure I was in the muscle, it is possible that I did not go deep enough. The mares both have some swelling at the injection sight. The geldings do too but it is very minor. Also I think I was up too high. I'm not sure why I didn't inject where I would normally give an antibiotic shot. Wait...yes I am. I will tell you why in a minute.
I also suspect that I may have miscalculated my dosage. I don't know this for a fact. I have not even read anything that supports my theory, but it is just a feeling I have. I also think that since the reactions they have right now are the exact same reactions they had for vet #1, I suspect that he also made the same mistakes as me. Especially since I did everything exactly as I remember him doing, including vaccinating up higher on the neck.
On day 1 they just had some soreness and swelling in the neck. Day 2, three out of four have swelling around the jaw. If they have been standing around or sleeping for a while it takes them a minute to work the soreness out enough to graze. Sassy's appetite is lower than usual, but she is still eating the stuff she loves, and everyone else is eating just fine. This is a repeat of 2 years ago.
Interestingly enough, I put the spotted ponies out to pasture and of Trax went right to work. Melody had to "limber up" but eventually was grazing just fine. I decided that the Red horses needed out too, so I shut the front gates and just kicked them out to roam. Funny how they suddenly felt much better and had plenty of energy to run to the fence and start a fight, go to the neighbors fence and try to steal alfalfa through the chain link fence, scratch their big fat butts on our little tiny trees, check every single gate for an escape route, go start another fight, go stare at Steve Wonder the Alpaca, and stopping to snack between each new adventure. When I put everyone away with a fresh flake of hay, they all dove right in, so that was a promising sign as well.
I fully believe that giving them the chance to graze or move about not only helps them work the soreness out, but it keeps them from dwelling on how they feel. Tomorrow I will put the reds in the pasture and the spots out to play. I did read something somewhere that said it is best to exercise right after vaccinating to help keep them from getting sore. I don't know if that is true. I did the exact opposite thinking it would be best to give them time to rest.
I realize that by writing this post and sharing on line I open myself up to a whole lot of criticism, and that is fine. You can't say anything to me that I have not said to myself. I feel bad that they are sore, but I would have felt a whole lot worse if mosquito season hit (next month) and they ended up getting very sick because I had not vaccinated at all. Yes I admit that I did my own to save some money. I know a gazillion people, all who take excellent care of their horses, who do the same thing. My equine fund has taken a couple of major hits that I am still recovering from. I hate having to cut corners, but sometimes you do what you have to do. I know that my horses are going to be okay, although I still feel sick that they don't feel good right now. I don't know if I will try this again next year, I will cross that bridge when I get to it.
I suppose I could have just kept all this information to myself. I even thought about doing just that. However, I didn't, for a reason. I wanted to share what I learned so that others my benefit from my less than stellar experience.