PreventiCare Program

Quietly, for nearly three years, horses and owners have been saved—horses from pain and death, and owners from expense and worry. While the start-up has been quiet, the impact is growing exponentially and can be seen in areas all across the country. The Pfizer Animal Health PreventiCare program and Colic Assistance Plan, in short, allow horse owners who work with their veterinarians to take good care of their horses up to $5,000 to pay for emergency colic surgery and aftercare. The program is free, although use of the company’s dewormers is mandatory. If you use daily dewormers, then it’s much like having someone at the grocery hand you coupons for a product you are going to buy anyway.

Ed Becker, DVM, said since Cornell University’s studies first came out with positive reports on Strongid C, he has been a believer in the product, especially when the horse is in an environment where he is constantly re-infected with parasites. The horses he and his daughter ride have been on the product since it first came out and he has recommended it to clients. Therefore, he said, it was logical that his horses would become part of the PreventiCare program at its inception. It was especially beneficial when his jumper/equitation horse Big Time, a 16-year-old Thoroughbred cross gelding, colicked on Memorial Day weekend.

Big Time is housed at the Skidmore College stables in New York. The stable staff noticed that Big Time was down in the field and acting colicky. In the 40 minutes it took Becker to arrive, another veterinarian was on the scene and giving assistance. Becker said he wasn’t sure the horse would ever get up, but they finally got Big Time loaded on a van and taken to surgery. Becker said it was while assisting the other veterinarian in the surgery—which turned out to be an impaction that responded to manual massage—he remembered the Colic Assistance Program. The lead veterinarian in the surgery was familiar with the program, as he had done surgery on other horses which were participants.

‘When my horse colicked, I actually started thinking like a client,’ said Becker, who operates The Animal Hospital in Guilderland, N.Y., which mostly handles small and exotic animals. ‘The other vet said Pfizer was the best company he had ever worked with, and there would be no problem with the colic surgery bills. My claim was never questioned. Pfizer paid the bill and sent me a nice card asking how the horse was doing.

‘I have no allegiance to Pfizer,’ stressed Becker. ‘I don’t care about their politics. This is a good product, and this program works.’

While it was a long summer for Becker and Big Time, the horse has returned successfully to training, and Becker started the gelding over jumps again in early October.

What Is PreventiCare?

A focus group of equine veterinarians was the impetus behind the concept of the Pfizer PreventiCare program and the Colic Assistance Plan that started in March of 1997. With the PreventiCare program, your veterinarian enrolls your horse and provides the following six fundamental services over the course of the year:

    1. annual physical exam;
    2. annual dental exam and treatment;
    3. appropriate immunizations;
    4. daily use of Strongid C or C 2X;
    5. twice yearly ivermectin treatment;
    6. nutritional counseling.

Most horse owners are going to follow these herd health pointers anyway, so this is nothing out of the ordinary. The use of the company’s daily wormers is required for enrollment, and the Strongid C must be purchased through the attending veterinarian. The practitioner is required to administer all components of the program.

Horses which are compliant with all aspects of the program then are eligible for the Colic Assistance Plan. Under the plan, if an eligible horse has a colic requiring surgery, Pfizer Animal Health will reimburse the operating surgeon for surgical costs and three days of aftercare up to $5,000. The Colic Assistance Plan does not cover costs of colic not associated with surgery.

There are three disqualifications for PreventiCare: 1) any horse which has had previous colic surgery; 2) any horse which has experienced colic in the last 12 months or has a history of chronic colic; and 3) any horse under five months or not fully weaned from its mother or any horse more than 20 years of age.

Horses which are officially enrolled before age 20 may re-enroll each year until age 24. If enrollment lapses at any time after age 20, the horse will not be eligible for re-enrollment. If an enrolled horse leaves the direct supervision of the enrolling veterinarian, the horse becomes ineligible for benefits associated with the Colic Assistance Plan. The horse may be re-enrolled under a new veterinarian, but must meet the same eligibility requirements as if it were enrolling for the first time.

Once the enrollment paperwork has been completed, each owner will receive a letter estimating the date the in-house process will be completed. Then, each owner will receive an official enrollment certificate stating the enrollment date and the date the horse is eligible for surgical reimbursement should a serious colic occur. The horse’s enrollment must be renewed each year.

Pfizer and the focus group of veterinarians visualized that this program would allow veterinarians to identify and treat problems before they threatened the health of a horse and became more costly to manage. This program also was designed to have the horse owner and the veterinarian form a partnership to provide the horse with the best possible care.

For more information on the PreventiCare program contact your local veterinarian or see the Pfizer web site at

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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