Benefits of a New Foal Checkup

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We want the absolute best for our horses, young and old, and what better way to set your brand new foal up for success than by giving her the tools she needs to succeed from the start! When you know that your mare is expecting, it is very important to keep your veterinarian in the loop so they can provide any needed reproductive services. The same applies when she has just delivered her foal (if it was born away from the veterinary clinic). A new foal exam serves as a baseline for health. Keep reading to see what you and your foal can expect from a new foal exam.

IgG Test

An IgG test (immunoglobulin type G) is a blood test that should be done on a foal within the first 24 hours of its birth. This will ensure she has achieved high enough levels of antibodies to protect her from life threatening diseases early in life. Foals get these antibodies through colostrum at their first feeding from mom. Getting this first colostrum is very important, and if you think your foal may not have gotten any, put in a call to the vet. Most vets keep emergency stores of colostrum for situations just like this.

Health Exam

Just like human babies are examined shortly after birth to make sure they are healthy, newborn foals should be examined too.To get your foal started on the right path, the doctor will provide her with a new foal exam (neonatal exam). During this exam, the doctor will do an in-depth analysis of the foal’s general conformation to check for any abnormalities or issues. This includes checking the heart, lungs, temperature, and conformation, as well as assessing her attitude and alertness. This is also an opportunity to check the mare for any post-foaling issues she may be experiencing.

Signs the Foal Needs Veterinary Attention (Beyond A New Foal Exam)

  • Milk coming from nose (aspiration pneumonia)
  • Orange fluid coming from nose or staining hair (meconium aspiration)
  • Changes in behavior: lack of affinity for mare, wandering aimlessly (dummy foal)
  • Milk on face (Not nursing)
  • Red gums 
  • Eyes sunken or tearing (dehydration, malnutrition, eye problem)
  • Weak pasterns, contracted tendons, joint or tendon laxity
  • Swollen joints, lameness (infection)
  • Diarrhea (bacterial, viral or parasite infection), foal heat diarrhea (7-10 days of age)
  • Rapid respiration (pneumonia, broken ribs, pain)
  • Bloat, colic
  • Weak and lethargic, inability to stand (sick foal)

Carolina Equine Hospital

Has your mare just given birth, or do you notice your new foal acting unusually? Give our doctors a call so they can come and give your new baby its first health exam! Our office serves the Piedmont Triad area and is open for regular appointments M-F, 8am-5pm. And we always have an emergency doctor on call!