Introduction To Foal Diseases

Foals are babies and like humans, their diseases are unique compared to adults.  In my way of thinking, there are two types: acquired or diseases developed AFTER birth and congenital which are diseases developed BEFORE birth.  A subset of acquired diseases are conditions that can develop either in the womb or after birth during their growth.  These are growth abnormalities usually due to the nutrition of the mare during gestation or in the foal after birth.

Acquired diseases include septicemia (blood distributed infections), inhalation (pneumonia), ingested (diarrhea / scours), immunologic (failure of passive transfer) neurologic (anoxia or lack of air) and trauma (kicked or stepped on).  

Congenital diseases include malformation (absence or additional limbs), fetal monsters (gross malformations with no survival), umbilical herniation (abdominal wall defect), incomplete formation of organs (anal atresia or blocked anus) and other genetic or teratogenic (environmentally caused) diseases (cleft palate).

Growth abnormalities include the developmental diseases such as contracted tendons, epiphysis, osteochondrosis dissicans and angular limb deformities.

Prevention of diseases is far more efficient than resolving them.  Included in this part are vaccinations, dipping the umbilicus, providing a clean and safe foaling environment (no shoes on the mare, no electric fences) and assuring the mares milk has the protection needed for the survival of the foal.

This section has few photos but a lot of stories from my experience in the world of foaling.  A lot of lost sleep here but worth it.

Normal Hair Loss In Foals

Foals are born with a lot of hair that falls off during the spring and summer months. Recognizing this as a natural process will alleviate anxiety in a new foal owner.

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