Winter Health Check for your Senior Horse

Snowy Vets are now offering a Winter health check bundle for senior horses. Our bundle includes;
– A faecal egg count (FEC)
– Endogenous ACTH testing for Equine Cushing’s
– 2in1 Tetanus/Strangles vaccination booster
All important aspects of managing your senior horses health and wellbeing!


Faecal egg counts are essential in evaluating the effectiveness of your current worming protocol. The main parasites of concern for horses are small strongyles and cyathostomins. We can perform an egg count on a faecal sample from your horse to determine the number of worm eggs per gram (EPG). This lets us categorise your horse as a high shedder (>500EPG), moderate shedder (200-500 EPG), or low shedder (<200 EPG). High shedders will require drenching, while moderate shedders may require drenching depending on the case.

Why are FECs important?

Faecal egg counts are particularly helpful in developing farm specific worming strategies and programs. We want to ensure your horses are adequately covered, without over drenching. This is especially important considering the rise of resistance of worms to certain drenches. FECs are also important in your senior horse, as horses may become more susceptible to parasitic diseases as they age. Remember to also keep your pastures as clean as possible, as it can take several days for eggs in faeces to hatch into infective larval stages.

Endogenous ACTH test

An endogenous ACTH test is the screening test of choice for Equine Cushing’s disease (or pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction). The precise cause of this disease is unknown. It involves hyperplasia (excessive growth) of a particular portion of the pituitary gland in the brain. Older horses and ponies are predisposed to this condition, however it can occur in any age or breed.

The most common clinical signs include an abnormal hair coat, muscle atrophy, bouts of laminitis, excessive drinking and urination, excessive sweating, abnormal fat distribution, and lethargy. Other clinical signs involve horses being prone to opportunistic bacterial and fungal infections, reproductive fertility issues, and neurologic signs.

The screening test involves your vet taking one simple blood sample to measure the blood concentration of the hormone ACTH. A high ACTH concentration means your horse is likely to have Cushing’s disease.

Why is screening for Equine Cushing’s necessary?

Equine Cushing’s can significantly impact your horses quality of life. It is also considered a neurodegenerative disease, so if left untreated will progressively get worse. Clinical signs can often be subtle, and not every horse with Cushing’s will display every sign, particularly early on in the disease process. This is why it is crucial to screen your senior horse for this disease, as early diagnosis leads to earlier treatment!

2 in1 Tetanus/Strangles vaccination booster

Tetanus is caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani which lives in soil and manure, entering the body via wounds. Clinical signs usually appear within 1-3 weeks of becoming infected and include muscle stiffness of the face, legs, ears, and tail. As the disease progresses, you my notice muscle spasms and an inability to eat. Boosters are required at least every 5 years, or following an injury that breaks the skin.

Strangles is primarily a respiratory disease caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi. The disease spreads rapidly between horses through coughing, and eating and drinking of infective droplets. Clinical signs appear within 3-8 days of exposure, and involve a fever, coughing, an inflamed throat, and swollen lymph nodes around the head and neck region.

Boosters are required annually, and offer good protection, however occasionally mild disease can still occur.

Why is vaccination necessary?

Vaccinations for tetanus and strangles are vital in providing your horse with immunity against these severe and often fatal diseases. Regular boosters provide good to excellent protection, and the cost of these are relatively cheap considering the expense of treatment for these diseases. The Equivac 2in1 is the combined tetanus and strangles vaccine offered by Snowy Vets, and is easily given intramuscularly in the side of the neck.

For further information, or to book a consult, please contact us 6455 7800 or

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