Spring tune-up: Wellness tips for your horse 

Jacquelin Boggs, DVM, MS, DACVIM 

Whether you ride for pleasure or performance, spring is an exciting time that offers a fresh new start. And we know your horse is like family, so as with any member, an annual wellness exam helps provide proactive and preventative health care. Below are five spring tune-up tips to discuss with your veterinarian at your horse’s next visit.

1. Schedule an Annual Wellness Exam

Wellness visits help affirm how your horse is doing as well as allow you to check in with your veterinarian to make any medication/supplement adjustments that set horses up for a healthy, active season ahead.

Routine bloodwork and additional diagnostic tests can provide peace of mind or notify of potential issues that your veterinarian can watch or further investigate. Your veterinarian can also teach you how to take your horse’s vital signs in case of an emergency and offer advice for stocking up on a first aid kit.

  • A diagnostic tool to discuss with your veterinarian is the Stablelab® EQ-1 Handheld Reader that quantifies Serum Amyloid A (SAA) levels (a biomarker for identifying early signs of inflammation due to infection) in 10 minutes.1
    • This hand-held, stall-side tool helps detect possible infection in horses in the time it takes your veterinarian to perform a physical exam—no need to wait for mail-away lab results.
    • Stablelab provides an extra layer in decision-making confidence for your veterinarian as it has been shown to be 30x more sensitive than a thermometer at detecting infection.2
    • This tool is also useful when identifying infection in broodmares and during newborn foal exams to screen for early signs of inflammation caused by infection. And Stablelab can be run with the same blood sample as IgG.
    • Stablelab helps to identify a problem—before it becomes a problem—while aiding in a biosecurity plan to set up prevention and protection protocols as needed. For more information, view the full product brochure here.
  • Your veterinarian can help prepare your horse for upcoming travels by ensuring their Coggins test and core/risk-based vaccines are up to date.
  • Lastly, insulin/ACTH/glucose levels should be monitored for at-risk patients or for horses that are currently being treated for a metabolic disorder.

2. The Perfect Pair: Core & Risk--Based Vaccines

Now is the ideal time to help protect your horse against both the core and risk-based diseases. Core EQ Innovator® helps protect your horse against the five core (potentially fatal) equine diseases—rabies, tetanus, West Nile virus, Eastern and Western equine encephalitis. It is also labeled safe for use in pregnant mares during their third trimester.

Fluvac Innovator EHV-4/1 helps guard your horse against equine influenza and equine herpesvirus 4 & 1 (EHV). Together, these two vaccines make up The Perfect Pair because they were created apart to be stronger together. Studies showed up to 4.7x higher influenza response when core and risk vaccines were given separately versus in combination.3,4

Set horses up for disease protection heading into the spring season, no matter the horse’s work or recreational discipline.

Fluvac Innovator is the most used equine vaccine in the U.S. and it is backed by the Zoetis Equine Immunization Support Guarantee.5

Equine influenza is highly contagious and capable of traveling 150 feet through the air.6 This means that your horse can be exposed to EIV across the distance of half a football field—it is transmitted via aerosol or direct contact with contaminated fomites from horse to horse and can survive on hands, clothing, brushes, buckets, stall walls, feed troughs, trailers and more.

3. Grazing Season = Deworming Season

Parasite transmission increases with the beginning of grazing season time. Talk with your veterinarian about running a fecal egg count as well as their recommendation for a spring dewormer based on your horse’s age/life stage, fecal egg count and your geographic zone.

  • Experts recommend less frequent yet targeted deworming practices (to avoid potential parasitic resistance), based on a horse’s age/life stage and geographic zone.7 Here is a quiz to help you determine the right dewormer for your horse.
  • Additional deworming resources:
    • For Foals: Choose Strongid® Paste (pyrantel pamoate) and/or Anthelcide® EQ Paste (oxibendazole) for the critical treatment of ascarids (roundworms) in young foals. Click here for a foal deworming recommendation from Zoetis.
    • For 1-2 Year-Old’s: The AAEP’s Parasite Control Guidelines advise that 1-2 year old’s should be treated like high shedders, with a focus on small strongyles and tapeworms. Learn more about the latest deworming recommendations for this equine age group from Zoetis.
    • For Adult Horses: According to the AAEP's Parasite Control Guidelines, moxidectin, the active ingredient in Quest® Gel, is the experts' treatment of choice against small strongyles.7 Click here for a deworming guide for adult horses from Zoetis.

4. The Importance off Dental Health

Sharp enamel points (hooks), uneven tooth wear (wave mouth), missing teeth and other issues can interfere with a horse’s ability to chew food correctly, which can impact their weight and gastrointestinal health. Including a sedated oral exam with a mouth speculum during your horse’s spring wellness check-up can help your veterinarian potential issues preemptively.

  • Routine annual preventative dental exams can help mitigate potential health issues, including but not limited to choke, behavior or performance issues.8 Some horses, those that are <5yo and="" senior="" horses="">15yo), may require dental care more than once per year. Speak with your veterinarian to see if this is recommended for your horse.
  • A standing sedated exam—using a mouth speculum is the only way to provide a thorough and complete oral exam to reach the furthest back cheek teeth. This can only be performed by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Dormosedan® Sterile Solution (detomidine hydrochloride) is an ideal sedative and analgesic for facilitating routine dental exams and procedures and is the #1 vet trusted sedative.9,10,11

5. General Body Condition Score

You might have noticed, some older horses tend to lose weight in the cooler months, which may very well go unnoticed, especially if they wear a blanket most of the wintertime.

Ensure that you remove your horse’s blanket routinely for grooming and to assess their general body condition. Have your veterinarian provide recommendations on nutrition/supplementation as well as overall condition and lameness. A routine evaluation before the upcoming season is a valuable part of wellness check-ups for nearly every horse, no matter their discipline.

Schedule a Spring Wellness Visit

Call your local veterinarian today to schedule your horse’s five-point wellness tune-up to set them up for a healthy, successful riding and pasture time season. For additional information, visit ZoetisEquine.com.


Do not use DORMOSEDAN STERILE SOLUTION in horses with pre-existing atrioventricular (AV) or sinoatrial (SA) block, with severe coronary insufficiency, cerebrovascular disease, respiratory disease, or chronic renal failure. Intravenous potentiated sulfonamides should not be used in anesthetized or sedated horses. Careful consideration should be given to horses approaching or in endotoxic or traumatic shock, to horses with advanced liver or kidney disease, or to horses under stress from extreme heat, cold, fatigue, or high altitude. Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. Handle dosing syringes with caution to avoid direct exposure to skin, eyes or mouth. See full Prescribing Information.


Do not use Quest Gel in foals less than 6 months of age or in sick, debilitated and underweight horses. Do not use in other animal species, as severe adverse reactions, including fatalities in dogs, may result. Consult your veterinarian for assistance in the diagnosis, treatment, and control of parasitism.


  1. Oertly M, Gerber V, Anhold H, et al. The accuracy of Serum Amyloid A in determining early inflammation in horses following long-distance transportation by air. AAEP Proceedings. 2017:460-461.
  2. Validation Data on File. TI-04856.
  3. Zoetis Inc. Data on file. Study report no. 14OREQBIO-1.
  4. Zoetis Inc. Data on file. Study report no. 15EQRGBIO05.
  5. The Fluvac Innovator line had the most doses sold of all equine influenza vaccine lines on the market. Animalytix Segment Data, Equine Vaccines MAT, December 2022.
  6. Equine Disease Communication Center. Equine influenza disease factsheet. https://aaep.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Outside%20Linked%20Documents/DiseaseFactsheet_EquineInfluenza_FINAL-Cobranded.pdf. Accessed January 3, 2023.
  7. American Association of Equine Practitioners. AAEP parasite control guidelines. https://aaep.org/guidelines/parasite-control-guidelines. Accessed January 3, 2023.
  8. Pehkonen J, Karma L, Raekallio M. Behavioral Signs Associated with Equine Periapical Infection in Cheek Teeth. J Equine Vet Sci 2019;77:144-50.
  9. DORMOSEDAN® Data on file, 2020 Equine Pain & Sedation Market Research Study. Final Report. Zoetis U.S. Market Research. Aug. 10, 2020.
  10. Freedom of Information Summary. NADA 140-862.
  11. Zoetis Inc. Data on file. ZMR: Detomidine HCL market share. Animalytix MAT, May 2022. 

All trademarks are the property of Zoetis Services LLC or a related company or a licensor unless otherwise noted. ©2023 Zoetis Services LLC. All rights reserved. COR-00220