Thinking of getting the Influenza vaccine this winter? Don’t forget your horse needs vaccinations too!

What are horses vaccinated for?

All horses, ponies and donkeys over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated for Influenza and Tetanus.

How can I check if my horse is vaccinated?

All vaccinations are recorded in your horse’s passport.  If you are unsure if your horse needs to be vaccinated, please feel free to pop into the Marsa clinic and we can check your passport for you.

How often do horses need to be vaccinated?

Once horses have received their primary course booster vaccines are required once a year.  

The primary course consists of:

Two vaccines one month apart, followed by a third vaccine six months later. Normally Vaccines come as a combination – against Flu and Tetanus

Equine Influenza

  • Which horses are at risk?

Young or older horse’s, ponies and donkeys and all equids that regularly travel and/ or compete are at the highest risk of equine influenza

  • What are the signs of Equine Influenza?

A very high temperature of more than 39˚C (103˚F) 

Not wanting to eat


Deep, dry cough

A clear discharge from the nose – this can become thickened and may turn yellow or green 

Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw

If you start exercising your horse too early after they have had equine influenza, secondary complications such as sinus inflammation, respiratory disease and heart damage can all occur.

  • How is equine influenza spread?

Equine influenza is extremely contagious and can spread throughout a group of horses within a few days.  It is carried on droplets shed from the nose of infected horses.  The virus can be passed between horses by contaminated feed or water buckets or tack. 

  • Why should I vaccinate my horse?

Vaccination minimises symptoms and stops the spread of infection to other horses, so you can avoid having to stop training you horse.  The most recent outbreak in Malta was March 2019.  An outbreak can occur at any time, so it’s best to be prepared!

Equine Tetanus

• Which horses are at risk?

All horses, ponies and donkeys.  Broodmares and foals are at high risk- therefore if your mare is pregnant tetanus vaccination is extremely important.

• What are the signs of Tetanus?

Initially horses develop stiffness of the neck, back and jaw muscles

Erect ears and dilated nostrils

As time goes on, muscular stiffness spreads throughout the body, and attempts to move cause the muscles to spasm

Increased heart rate

Increased respiratory rate



Lying down and being unable to stand

Almost all infected horses die

• How is tetanus spread?

Tetanus is not contagious between horses. 

Tetanus lives in the soil, and can enter the body through any wound- all wounds from small punctures to lacerations to surgical wounds can allow entry of tetanus

• Why should I vaccinate my horse?

Vaccination is extremely effective in preventing your horse from developing tetanus.  If your horse sustains a wound and is not vaccinated, please contact us, as an antitoxin can be given, which give immediate, but temporary protection for your horse, to prevent them from getting tetanus before they have been vaccinated.

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