What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Foal or Newborn, Swelling of Groin


Inguinal hernia is a condition in which the abdominal contents slip through the inguinal ring into the scrotum. It is the most common cause of groin swelling in the young foal, but other swellings are possible. Inguinal hernia is more common in the gaited and warmblood breeds and happens because the inguinal ring (connective tissue ring that borders the inguinal canal) is large enough to allow intestine to pass through.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If the swelling is large, painful or growing rapidly.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If the foal appears otherwise normal, i.e. is active and nursing normally.
    • If the swelling is mild or moderate, and not increasing rapidly.

your role


What To Do

Assess your foal's general health and take their rectal temperature. Assess the foal's attitude and appetite.

Gently press on the swollen area and assess whether the swelling is soft or hard, and moveable or fixed. Feel for heat in the area or a pain response to gentle pressure. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

your vet's role

Your vet should promptly examine foals with groin swelling because there is a possibility of entrapment of intestine in the inguinal ring, which could be life-threatening. Your vet uses a clinical exam to differentiate the causes of swelling here. In some cases, ultrasound can also be very useful.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How old is the foal?
  • Is the foal active and nursing?
  • Does the foal appear healthy otherwise?
  • What breed is the foal?
  • Is the swelling soft or firm?

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP