What vaccines does your horse need?

All horses should receive annual vaccination against the five core diseases.

Kevin Hankins Senior Veterinarian, Equine Technical Services, Zoetis

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risk-of-rabies risk-of-rabies risk-of-rabies

Spring has arrived and we know you’re eager to spend more time with your four-legged best friend. It’s important to make sure your horse is healthy and feeling his best all year. Annual vaccinations are key to ensuring your horse’s health and well-being against potentially fatal equine diseases. But what vaccines does your horse absolutely need?

Every horse is unique, and every environment is unique. To determine what vaccinations your horse needs, talk with your veterinarian first. Your veterinarian can advise you on the potential disease risks in your area, the best time for core disease vaccination and what risk-based vaccines are right for your horse.

Core Vs. Risk-based Diseases

There are two categories of diseases that pose the most serious threats to horses:

  • Core Diseases: The five core diseases include rabies, West Nile virus, Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, and tetanus. All horses are exposed to these potentially fatal diseases and need to be vaccinated annually according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
  • Risk-based Diseases: Equine influenza virus and herpesvirus are the most common risk-based diseases that your horse may need to be vaccinated against. Vaccination will vary depending on your horse’s unique lifestyle and environment.

The Danger of Core Diseases Is Real

Protect your horse from the potentially fatal core diseases every spring with Core EQ Innovator®, the first and only vaccine to protect horses against all five core equine diseases in a single injection.

Exposure and Impact


100% fatal1

  • Horses can be exposed to rabies through the bite of infected animals: commonly bats, raccoons, foxes and skunks.
  • Preventive care through annual vaccination is the only way to protect horses against rabies – a zoonotic disease that is also a risk to you and your family.

Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE)

90% fatal2

  • Mosquitoes aren’t just a nuisance – they pose serious risks to your horse’s health.
  • It is transmitted to horses by mosquitoes that have fed on infected wild birds.


75% fatal2

  • It is caused by bacteria present in soil that can contaminate open wounds.

Western equine encephalomyelitis (EEE)

50% fatal1

  • Like EEE, it is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.

West Nile virus

33% fatal1

  • West Nile virus is acquired through the bite of a mosquito that previously fed on an infected bird.

Additional annual risk-based vaccinations may be needed based on your horse’s unique lifestyle and environment. Protect your horse from diseases like equine influenza, equine herpes virus, strangles, and leptospirosis through annual vaccination.

In addition to advising on critical core and risk-based vaccinations, your veterinarian can develop the best possible preventive health care plan for your horse that includes proper diet and regular dental exams.

Use this vaccination guide as a starting point to identify your horse’s core and risk-based needs and work with your veterinarian to develop an annual vaccination plan together.


  1. American Association of Equine Practitioners. Core Vaccination Guidelines. 2012. https://aaep.org/guidelines/vaccination-guidelines/core-vaccination-guidelines. Accessed May 1, 2020.
  2. MacKay R. Tetanus. In: Sellon DC, Long M, eds. Equine Infectious Diseases. 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier 2007:368-372.