Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Foal or Newborn, Coughing

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 nursing or seems depressed.
  • If the foal has milk run out its nostrils while nursing.

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

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

Coughing is a reflex action intended to clear the airway. Tactile stimulation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (wind pipe) causes the cough reflex.

Age is a clue as to the cause of a cough in a foal. Persistent coughing in a newborn foal might indicate a congenital or hereditary problem with the swallowing reflex or the mechanical form or function of the esophagus or larynx.

Older foals and weanlings are susceptible to viral and bacterial respiratory infections and parasitic disease. As with adults, air quality can always be a factor affecting the respiratory system. Dusts and molds cause irritation and allergic responses.

WHAT TO DO

Assess the foal’s general health, paying particular attention to their general attitude and appetite. Take a rectaul temperature. Look for any nasal discharge, especially of milk around nursing time. If a foal also appears depressed and is not nursing or shows any other signs of illness, contact your vet immediately to discuss your findings and concerns, because it may be a veterinary emergency. Do not force a coughing horse or one with nasal discharge to stand with its head elevated. It may cause inhalation of material into the lungs and predispose to pneumonia.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet uses physical exam and observation of the cough to better understand the nature of the problem causing it. Endoscopy, blood work and x-ray are additional diagnostics often used to make a diagnosis and determine a treatment plan.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending