Survey: Horse owners look to veterinarians for recommendations

December 26, 2018
dvm360 Staff
dvm360, dvm360 February 2019, Volume 50, Issue 2

Data from American Horse Publications reveals that more horse owners are discussing vaccination and deworming with their veterinarians.

According to a recent survey by American Horse Publications (AHP), sponsored by Zoetis, veterinarians are the No. 1 influencer of horse owners when it comes to vaccination and deworming recommendations. AHP conducted the survey online January through April 2018 with 9,000 horse owners across the United States responding, according to a release from Zoetis.

“The percentage of respondents who said they discuss American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) vaccination recommendations with their veterinarians nearly doubled from the last AHP survey in 2015,” says Jill Stowe, PhD, associate professor of agricultural economics at the University of Kentucky, in the release. Dr. Stowe analyzed the data and consulted on the results.

Vaccination findings

The AHP survey also reported that 63 percent of horse owners purchased vaccinations from or had them administered by their veterinarians, an increase from 2012 and 2015. And even when owners vaccinated their horses themselves, 70 percent of them consulted their veterinarians when it came to purchasing a vaccination. Further, 50 percent of respondents discuss recommendations from the AAEP with their vet, which is up 20 percent from the 2015 survey.

The Zoetis release states that vaccinations remain critical against five core equine diseases-rabies, Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), Western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE), tetanus and West Nile virus.

Deworming findings

As with vaccinations, veterinarians are more involved in the deworming process as well. Half of respondents from the AHP survey have gotten their veterinarian involved in creating a deworming protocol for their horses. In addition, 78 percent of respondents reported their veterinarian recommended a fecal egg count (FEC) test and 63 percent had an FEC test performed once, twice or even three times year.

“These results show an increase in responsible deworming practices,” says Kenton Morgan, DVM, managing veterinarian with Zoetis' Equine Technical Services group. “When a horse is dewormed too often, horse owners risk inadvertently doing more harm than good by increasing their horse's risk for parasite resistance and, as a result, ineffective deworming treatments in the future.”

Other findings

The AHP survey results also show that the human-horse relationship is changing. The majority of respondents see their horses as a companion animal or pet. Interestingly, there also appears to be a correlation between age and owner's relationship to horse. As age increased, owners were less likely to view their horse as a best friend, companion animal or pet, family member or performance partner.

Additionally, unwanted horses remains the top issue facing the equine industry today, and coming closely in second is the cost of horsekeeping.

“Industry participants have made great strides in addressing important issues, such as the unwanted horse issue, and now have their sights focused on additional challenges, such as the scarcity of riding areas and open spaces,” Dr. Stowe says.

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