Foals suffer from unique problems and diseases, and should not be simply treated as 'small horses'.
The newborn foal is born with a very naïve immune system. The foal gains the vast majority of its antibodies that help to fend off infection from the mare's first milk, the colostrum. This so-called 'passive transfer of immunity' is vital for the health of the foal, and newborn foals with inadequate transfer of immunity are particularly vulnerable to infections.
Many problems progress quickly and may rapidly become life-threatening. Early recognition and prompt treatment is key.
As the foal gets older, its own immune system develops and provides it with better protection against disease.
Neo-Natal Intensive Care
DGVS has a mare and foal box dedicated to the care of the sick neonatal foal, of any breed. These are typically foals experiencing difficult births, suffering early setbacks or born with congenital defects and are often not nursing, recumbent or fitting.
These cases are often critically ill and require highly specialised 24, hour veterinary care.
Routine Foal Care
We recommend all newborn foals are checked on the first day of life. This allows any problems to be detected early and treated wherever possible.
A blood test can measure the level of protective antibodies (IgG) that the foal has received from its dam, and appropriate measures can be taken if this is not the case. A tetanus antitoxin injection is also recommended.
Common problems include orthopaedic issues, meconium impaction, entropion, and hernias.
We can also offer advice about feeding, worming, weaning and vaccinating foals.