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Equine Health Resource

Foal or Newborn, Seizure or Convulsion

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

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

    A seizure is uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. In newborn foals, it usually is caused by lack of oxygen or sugar (glucose), brain injury or infection, or congenital brain conditions. In slightly older foals (especially Arabians), the most common cause is congenital epilepsy. There are many other potential causes.

    Regardless, this is a veterinary emergency. While seizures look terrible, recognize that they can usually be controlled. The foal is probably not in pain. Try to keep the foal from injuring itself by removing any obstacles. Deep straw bedding is helpful.

    You can cradle a newborn kneeling behind its back if it is down on its side, being careful not to be kicked, until your vet arrives. Only use enough restraint to keep the foal from injuring itself. Ask someone to hold the mare to prevent her from stepping on the foal.

    Your vet will likely control the seizure first, using intravenous anti-seizure medication. At that point, they will try to stabilize the foal’s health and determine the cause. They will likely run diagnostics and perform symptomatic treatments until a diagnosis is made. Then more directed treatments can be performed and a prognosis may be given.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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