Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Foal or Newborn, Swelling of Groin

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 swelling is large, painful or growing rapidly.

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

  • If the foal appears otherwise normal, i.e. is active and nursing normally.
  • If the swelling is mild or moderate, and not increasing rapidly.

Inguinal hernia is a condition in which the abdominal contents slip through the inguinal ring into the scrotum. It is the most common cause of groin swelling in the young foal, but other swellings are possible. Inguinal hernia is more common in the gaited and warmblood breeds and happens because the inguinal ring (connective tissue ring that borders the inguinal canal) is large enough to allow intestine to pass through.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your foal’s general health and take their rectal temperature. Assess the foal’s attitude and appetite.

Gently press on the swollen area and assess whether the swelling is soft or hard, and moveable or fixed. Feel for heat in the area or a pain response to gentle pressure. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet should promptly examine foals with groin swelling because there is a possibility of entrapment of intestine in the inguinal ring, which could be life-threatening. Your vet uses a clinical exam to differentiate the causes of swelling here. In some cases, ultrasound can also be very useful.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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