Managing The Sick Foal: Recognizing Illness in Foals As Early As Possible

Recognizing illness in sick foals can be challenging as they often exhibit more subtle signs of illness compared to adults. Not only that, but their condition also deteriorates at a faster pace. Therefore, it is crucial to promptly identify the signs of illness as soon as possible.

Understanding the Signs of Illness:

  • Foals often exhibit subtle signs of illness compared to adults
  • Prompt identification of these signs is crucial due to faster deterioration

Monitoring the Mare and Foal:

  1. Familiarize yourself with their daily routines:
  • Regularly feel the mare’s udder to understand the normal state
  • Watch out for hardness or enlargement, indicating decreased nursing
  • Check for dripping or streaming milk on the foal’s face, a sign of an over distended udder
  1. Pay attention to the foal’s umbilicus:
  • Check for any enlargement or discharge
  • Call a veterinarian if abnormalities are found
  • Dip the navel in 0.5% chlorhexidine daily for cleanliness

Diarrhea and Attitude Changes:

  • “Foal heat” diarrhea around one week after birth is usually transient and resolves without treatment
  • Abnormal diarrhea accompanied by attitude changes requires further investigation:
  • Lethargy, decreased nursing, or a fever above 102.2 F

Leg Examination:

  • Regularly inspect the foal’s legs:
  • Swelling and lameness can indicate life-threatening infections
  • Immediate veterinary attention is necessary

Observing Personality Changes:

  • Most sick foals exhibit a change in personality
  • Know your foal’s normal behavior:
  • Lack of interest in surroundings or weakness may signal illness
  • Seek veterinary assistance promptly

Extra Caution for High-Risk Foals:

  • Foals with difficult births or abnormalities are at higher risk
  • Early treatment is crucial to prevent devastating consequences

Prevention and Early Assessment:

  • Thorough examination and blood test for all foals between 8 to 16 hours after birth
  • Detect potential problems and boost immune function if necessary
  • Provide a clean environment:
  • Straw bedding preferred for the first week

Proactive Care for Optimal Health:

  • Stay attentive to the well-being and development of your foal.

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