Time to Vaccinate

Time to Vaccinate

July 29, 2018

As we say goodbye to Summer it is a good time of year to start to think about vaccinating your horses. With changing weather and increasing moisture levels bacterial and viral disease will start to resurface and the numbers of under-the-weather and coughing horses around the country will start to increase. If you have important competitions or races on the horizon it is important not to miss training days and most important of all not to miss out on the chance to compete and win.

Whether you are vaccinating a horse for the first time or giving annual boosters it is best to get in early and boost the immune system before the viruses get a chance to strike!

Many large stables that employ a blanket vaccination policy on all their horses have reported an increase in general health of the whole stable which they can measure by the amount of money that they save on vet visits and antibiotics throughout the year. With increasing incidence of antibiotic resistance both around the country and around the world it has never been more important to have a well thought out vaccination policy in place to try to prevent disease rather than rely on antibiotics to treat disease after it has taken hold.

There are a variety of vaccinations available to horse owners today with the most commonly discussed being Tetanus, Strangles, Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) and Hendra Virus. Tetanus & Strangles are bacterial diseases whilst the others are viral diseases. At Racetrack Veterinary Services we can provide all these vaccines but we are happy to discuss individual cases and help you decide which diseases you should be vaccinating your horse against. As a rule of thumb we like to use a Tetanus/Strangles 2-in-1 vaccine and a EHV (1&4) vaccine together to provide some protection against both bacterial and viral disease. We feel that by stimulating the natural immune system in this way we provide a more complete protection against any diseases that your horse may come across in the stables, paddock or at competitions. If your horse has been vaccinated in the past a single vaccination shot of each will be enough to provide cover for another year at least. If the horse has never been vaccinated before or has missed booster shots for a year or two then you may require two or three shots over the course of a few weeks to achieve full protection Get in touch with us to discuss vaccination options for your horse(s) or to ask any questions that you may have.

Contact Dr Eoin Kelly MVB MRCVS on 0418 978558 0 Comments

Happy Ist Birthday to RVS!



Racetrack Veterinary Services are celebrating their 1st Birthday this weekend! Dr Eoin Kelly would like to thank all his valuable staff and clients who have helped make the company a success over the past year.


So what is Cobalt and why is it used in animals?



With Cobalt being brought into the media spotlight with recent positive swabs from horses trained by some of Australia's leading racehorse trainers, Dr Eoin Kelly explains exactly what Cobalt is and why it is used in animals - most notably racehorses.

Cobalt is a naturally occurring mineral which is found in the bodies of almost all animals including humans and racehorses. It is a by-product of copper mining and so is relatively inexpensive and is not a prescription medication. It is essential for the production of coenzymes such as Vitamin B12 which help the body to perform many essential functions including DNA synthesis, angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels), tissue repair and red blood cell production.

The chemical symbol is Co which should not be confused with CO2 (carbon dioxide) or TCO2 which is the measure used to determine if a racehorse has received an alkalizing agent.

Cobalt chloride is the most commonly found form of cobalt and these crystals are easily dissolved in water which could then be used for injection or alternatively the crystals could be added to feed or mixed with a drench for administration by stomach tube. Minute amounts of cobalt are found in many common supplements used in horse racing in Australia such as Hemo-15, B-Complex, Vitamin B12 injection and Folic B12 injection. Cobalt is also commonly found in many children's chemistry sets.

Cobalt is commonly fed to cattle and sheep to assist with Vitamin B12 production in the rumen. Health and production levels of these grazing animals have been shown to be greatly improved by such supplementation especially in areas where the natural levels of cobalt in the soil are low. In South Australia in the 1930s there was a major break through in sheep farming when cobalt deficiency was discovered as the cause of Coast Disease which had been the cause of major production losses up to that point. From then on cobalt supplementation became much more common place. Similarly, Denmark Disease in cattle was cured by adding cobalt to cattle feeds.

Cobalt supplementation has been proven to assist in red blood cell production in some species by fooling the body into thinking that it has been deprived of oxygen so that more natural (endogenous) Erythropoietin (EPO) is produced. This in turn increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and has a consequence helps the muscles to function better and for longer thus improving the athletic performance. A similar effect is produced by altitude training or by the direct administration of (exogenous) EPO.

Side effects of cobalt supplementation are known to include heart problems (tachycardia and cardiomyopathies), profuse sweating and rapid shallow breathing. Some side effects have been noted with administration at levels not far above the recognized therapeutic supplementary doses.

One notable occurrence was in Canada in 1966 when there was a spike in the death rate of a group of alcoholics due to cardiomyopathy (heart disease). The spike was linked to consumption of beer from a local brewery which had been adding cobalt to their brew to control foaming.

The Racing Victoria threshold for cobalt is 200 micrograms per litre of urine, approximately 10 times the maximum normal level in racehorses as evidenced by recent data published in New South Wales. Levels above 200mcg/L could never be obtained in a racehorse without direct supplementation with a concentrated form of cobalt. This threshold level was adopted by all racing jurisdictions within Australia from January 1st 2015. As yet there is no published threshold in plasma (blood) in Australia although there has been some research and recommendations on this in the USA where cobalt supplementation has been widespread in racehorses for several years.

Data on excretion time shows an elimination phase half-life for cobalt of 3.9 hours. In theory this means that a 1g dose of cobalt could be reduced to below the threshold level in just over 48 hours.

Racing Victoria were notified by Racing Analytical Services Limited (RASL) that horses in the stables of Peter Moody, Mark Kavanagh and Danny O'Brien have returned samples in which Cobalt has been detected above the permiotted threshold. Racing Victoria are now investigating the circumstances that may have led to these elevated levels and we now await their findings.

Dr Eoin Kelly MVB MRCVS Racetrack Veterinary Services 2 Comments

Don't Hesitate... Vaccinate!!



Year-round your horses are exposed to a myriad of infection and disease. The risk of disease is increased when horses are brought together in groups at race-meetings, pony club and all types of competition. Travelling in floats and trucks that have been used by other horses increases the risk factors even more. Vaccination against some of the more common and serious diseases gives your horse a much greater chance of avoiding an infection or minimizing the effects if an illness is contracted. Depending on individual circumstances and what disciplines your horse is involved in, different vaccination protocols may be most suitable for your horses. 

Get in touch with us for some advice on what suits you and your horse best.

Vaccinations advised: Racehorses                                            Tetanus/Strangles, Equine Herpes Virus 1&4 Pony Club, trail-riders etc.                   Tetanus/Strangles Horses travelling interstate                 Tetanus/Strangles, Hendra Virus Broodmares                                           Tetanus/Strangles, EHV1&4, Salmonella, Rotavirus 0 Comments

RVS Tendon Rehab Program pays off with Caulfield success for Bel Price



Bel Price caps two comebacks at Caulfield.                         (via www.racingfans.com.au) Bel Price met a superstar almost eight months ago before their careers skewed off in different directions. After finishing a length behind Lankan Rupee when fourth in a Moonee Valley sprint in October last year, Bel Price ended up in the veterinary surgery. Lankan Rupee became the world's best sprinter while Bel Price began a period of rehabilitation after an examination revealed she had sustained a tendon injury. Trainer Jerome Hunter decided to keep Bel Price active with light work rather than sending her to a paddock to recover. A regimen of trotting, slow pacework and beach work paid off when the five-year-old claimed Saturday's PFD Food Services Handicap (1100m). "This horse not seen a paddock in nearly a year," Hunter said. "We kept on keeping the tendon supple, I guess, and then strengthening and strengthening it. "That's the latest theory, just keep working them and that's what we did." Bel Price's win capped Hunter's own comeback of sorts after the Mornington-based horseman gave away training almost seven years ago. Hunter worked as an equine acupuncturist for five years before returning as a private trainer for owner Graeme Gathercole. Apprentice Jye McNeil guided Bel Price ($19) to a half-neck win over the Mick Price-trained Halle Rocks ($11) while the $51 chance Unique Storm was third. Flemington trainer John Sadler gave talented mare Vain Queen a chance to show her unplaced run at Sandown was aberration. Punters let Vain Queen drift from $2.70 to $4 but she weakened to finish sixth after racing wide on the speed. 0 Comments


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Contact Dr Eoin Kelly MVB MRCVS on 0418 978558