Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My poor baby!

Leave it to the Thoroughbred. If it can go wrong, it will with them.

My poor Gabester had a reaction to his rabies shot. The injection site swelled up pretty nicely and he was very painful to the touch. In fact, he wouldn't let me touch it and didn't want to bend his neck in that direction. He was "not himself."

When I looked out the dining room window and saw him standing out there, head down, I knew immediately he wasn't feeling good. You know how you can just tell when they don't feel 100%? Poor guy was lethargic and looked depressed. I mentioned to Robert that he looked depressed and he kind of chuckled at me a bit, like I was being overprotective of my big guy.

He was eating just fine, and drinking, but not wanting to do much more than that. Usually he's much more animated. So, I called my extra special vet, who also happens to be my mom, and got some advice. I've never, ever had a horse react to a vaccination, so I wasn't really sure what to do to help him feel better, or even if I should be panicking about it.

She advised that abscesses can be a concern at injection sites. Hot compresses on the swelling and banamine to take the edge off was the over-the-phone prescription. Checking his temp was also on the list of to-dos. So, out I went with the thermometer to put him through that particular indignity. 100.2, perfectly normal. My wonderful husband applied the hot compress while I squished banamine into him and took the temperature. Gabe seemed to like the attention and really seemed to get some relief from the compresses.

By morning he was definitely feeling better. His neck was still sore, but the "funk" he was in had lifted. He was more like his usual silly, animated self at feeding time. By the evening, the swelling was gone, still a little sore, and he let me know he was DEFINITELY feeling better when he kicked up his his, lifted his tail high and went squealing around the pasture when I turned him out onto the grass. Yay!

I hate it when they feel like crap, especially when it's because of something I did ie: Give him the rabies vaccine. I know rabies itself is FAR worse than the reaction he had to the shot, but I still feel bad. I've read some info that some horse people are declining to vaccinate their horses against rabies and some other disease, but I don't think I'd take it that far. The diseases they are vaccinated against are far worse than the vaccinations. I do wonder, though, if we tend to over-vaccinate a bit. Are all those shots really necessary every year? I only get a tetanus shot every five years or so and haven't had any other vaccinations since college. Couldn't our horses get their shots every other year and still be protected? Especially those that are in pretty much a closed herd like mine are. If I was actively showing or mingling among other horses more frequently, there would be no question at all about vaccination, they'd get 'em every year. Period.

Something to think about, and ask questions about.


  1. Seems like I read somewhere how long each of the things in the 5-way vaccination actually last. Some of them were only good for 2-3 months. I don't think any of them kept a horse vaccinated for even a full year? There sure is a lot of bad stuff in those shots.

  2. Poco had a reaction 2 years ago. He was pathetic for most of a weekend. I actually liked it because it was the first time the big galoot came to me and put that big ole jug head in my arms. Jaz picked on him, too.

  3. Depends on the particular disease and vaccine. Tetanus vaccines provides protection to humans for 10 years. The tetanus vax for horses only lasts 5 years. Just depends on that species immune system!

    If you really keep a closed herd and don't show, you can drop some vaccines. I would never personally drop rabies - endemic to a lot of animals that horses can encounter in the pasture or stall, and 100% fatal to horses and humans. It's just not worth the risk to me.

    I know you can run blood tests to check the level of antibodies in dogs, to determine if the dog really needs a booster that year. You might be able to do the same for horses - ask your mom about rabies titers for Gabe next year.

  4. Hi Jen, it's been a while since I visited here; I'm delighted to see that you're making good progress with Gabe (pics, please!)
    I prefer not to vaccinate, but since I'm around other horses, I give the West Nile Innovater shot which combines a 3 way with west nile. Rabies isn't an issue here, but since I'm moving to an area that has racoons, I'll probably have to give that shot this year.
    I think that the drug companies are more interested in getting a cash flow from us than they are about the heealth of our horses; if a vaccine protects for a few years, they aren't about to tell us.

  5. Oh Gabe!
    Wa had a reaction to her West Nile this time...I only give one at a time myself and a puncture wound homeopathy too. She would not eat hay(grain still, ya)and only drank a few inches of her water barrel compared to half a night...
    Now that I am not in the large boarding barn with all sorts of horses breing trailered in...I am cutting back with the vets permission. They really have scaled back and don't recommend some for this area even. Rabies-nope.
    Horse Journal has a good article this mo on the subject and I like the vet that wrote it. She brought up some good info on some changing requirements.
    So glad he is better...really good advise from momvet!