Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Pregnancy Loss, Late-Term (6 Months to Term)

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the mare has also retained her placenta for longer than 3 hours.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
  • Questions coming up around foaling should usually be discussed right away with your vet.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Late term abortion is relatively uncommon. It usually results from the existence of twin fetuses, bacterial infection of the placenta (placentitis), or a viral infection. When mares abort in later pregnancy, there is a greater chance of a difficult or complicated delivery (dystocia) or a retained placenta, and more danger to the mare.

The birth of a small, stillborn fetus at 8-10 months of gestation is always cause to consider that there may be a second fetus still in the mare. Retained placenta and subsequent uterine infection is a risk after twin abortion.

Aborted fetuses are often eaten by scavengers before they are found, so just because you did not find a fetus does not mean that your mare did not abort. Red vaginal discharge or an inappropriately full udder in a supposedly pregnant mare may be all that you notice or see.

WHAT TO DO

If possible, always save the placenta and aborted fetus in a cool place for your vet to evaluate when they evaluate the mare. Keep the mare isolated and fetal fluids away from your other horses until your vet has evaluated the situation. Monitor your recently aborted mare for a few days. Watch attitude, appetite and rectal temperature to be sure those things remain normal.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

After abortion, your mare’s general health and reproductive health should be evaluated by a vet, who may suggest diagnostics to determine the cause. Your vet examines the mare to be sure there is not another fetus and that she has properly shed the placenta. By determining the cause, you and your vet may be able to limit future damage to your mare’s reproductive health, ensure fertility for rebreeding, or even protect other broodmares in the group (assuming the diagnosis relates to an outside environmental cause).

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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