Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Newborn Foal, White of Eye is Red or Bloodshot

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 foal fails to stand in 2 hours and nurse in 3 hours, along with this sign.
  • If the foal is not as bright as normal or not nursing normally.

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

  • If the foal appears otherwise normal, i.e. is active and nursing normally.

Foals are sometimes born with bloodshot eyes. The white of the eye (sclera) is solid red or laced with thickened vessels. Bleeding into the whites of the eyes is thought to occur due to pressure during the birthing process bursting the tiny vessels. This condition should resolve in a few days in otherwise healthy foals.

However, bloodshot eyes in newborn foals is also associated with another underlying potentially life-threatening disorder- septicemia.

WHAT TO DO

Assess the foal’s general health, especially attitude and nursing vigor, gum color, and rectal temperature. Look for diarrhea, lameness and gently feel the umbilical area (looking for swelling or moistness). Compare the appearance of the left and right eye. Do they look the same. If only one eye is affected, it is not as likely to be indicative of body-wide illness and is more likely local injury.

Contact your vet immediately and share your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will assess the the foal’s general health and the appearance of their eyes, in order to determine whether this is the sign of a serious problem or not. Additional diagnostics, such as antibody testing, may be recommended.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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