Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Newborn Foal, Seems Disoriented or Dazed

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 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 generally alert and active within minutes of birth. A good general indicator of a foal’s overall health is their desire and ability to nurse. The act of latching to a teat requires a properly functioning neurologic system. Once a foal has nursed for the first time, they should nurse and sleep frequently. When they are up, they should be bouncy and bright, even playing and bucking within the first few hours of birth.

It is not normal for a foal to appear dazed, disoriented or confused. It is also abnormal for them to simply “hang around” the mare’s udder without nursing or to stand for extended periods as if they are almost asleep on their feet.

WHAT TO DO

You can assess the foal yourself, but recognize that this may be an emergency. Pay particular attention to whether the foal has dried milk on their face or if the mare is dripping milk from her teats. Contact your vet immediately with your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet knows normal foal behavior and performs a physical examination and other diagnostics to determine whether there is an underlying problem.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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