Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Newborn Foal, Heart Rate Abnormally Slow, Less Than 40 BPM

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

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

  • Questions coming up around foaling should usually be discussed right away with your vet.

Heart rates in newborn foals change over the first 24 hours of life, and can range between 60 to over 100 BPM. Right after birth, a newborn’s heart rate should be at least 60 BPM. If a newborn foal’s heart rate falls below 50 BPM, this can indicate they are suffering from a life-threatening problem.

A very low heart rate is seen in very weak foals, especially following a difficult birth and a period of poor brain and tissue oxygenation. A foal with a very low heart rate may need intensive care or even CPR.

Call your vet immediately if you have any doubt about your newborn foal’s health. A post-foaling exam is a smart investment. The entire health of foal and mare will be evaluated, catching potential problems early. When you talk to your vet, and depending upon how quickly they can evaluate the foal, ask them whether there is anything you can do until they arrive.

Your vet quickly assesses the foal’s health. If the vet has access to an oxygen tank, they may supplement the foal’s oxygen. Other medications may be given and procedures performed to “kickstart” the foal’s cardio-pulmonary systems.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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