Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Foal or Newborn, Rectal Temperature Low, Less than 97 Degrees F

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

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

  • If the foal is not as bright as normal or not nursing normally.

Unlike adults, foals are very small and can become hypothermic under very cold conditions or when they are weakened by underlying conditions.

This finding suggests that either there is something wrong with the method of temperature-taking, or the foal is actually very cold.

If the foal seems normal otherwise, it is probably a matter of poor technique. If the thermometer is defective, is not inserted far enough, not allowed enough time to come to the maximum temperature, or comes into contact with a fecal ball, it may give a reading which is artificially low.


Assess your foal’s general health looking for other signs of illness or disease. Take the foal’s temperature again, ensuring that you use proper technique. In most cases this finding is accompanied by other signs of a sick foal (depressed, not nursing, etc.).

However, even if this is the only abnormal finding, contact your vet immediately. A foal that is unable to maintain their body temperature may require immediate veterinary treatment.

If the foal is visibly trembling or is wet, make them warm and dry. Provide adequate shelter, heat and/or a foal rug or blanket.


Your vet will diagnose and treat any underlying disease and provide the nursing and supportive care needed.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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