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


Growing Foal, Poor Growth & Condition


Foals or youngsters that appear to be growing poorly may be suffering from malnutrition, under-nutrition or any variety of chronic and sometimes congenital ailments. The foal's genetic makeup always has to be considered. Beyond our understanding of diagnosable congenital conditions, there are also many less well understood congenital factors that contribute to a foal's growth and development potential.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the foal appears otherwise normal, i.e. is active and nursing normally.
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

Observe the foal's behavior carefully. Assessing the amount of milk the mare is producing can be difficult. How much time does the foal spend nursing? Foals that nurse constantly are probably not getting enough milk from the mare. Supplementation may be helpful. Assess the foal's general health and, if possible, compare their appearance to other foals in the group. Consider the nutrition of mare and foal and the de-worming program. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

What Not To Do

Do not administer vitamin supplements without consulting with your veterinarian first. It is possible to feed foals too much of certain nutrients, leading to toxicity and other problems.

your vet's role

Your vet will perform a physical exam and use routine laboratory work. Beyond that, your vet may carefully assess your management of mare and foal, paying particular attention to mare milk production, nutrition otherwise, parasite control, and the foal's environment.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How is the foal's appetite and attitude?
  • How old is the foal?
  • Does your foal have diarrhea?
  • What are the mare and foal being fed?
  • What is your parasite control program?
  • Is the foal showing any signs of abdominal pain (colic)?
  • To your knowledge, das the foal consumed sand?
  • Was the foal examined after birth by a veterinarian?
  • What are the results of the foal exam?
  • Was an IgG antibody test done on the foal after birth?

Diagnostics Your Vet May Perform

Figuring out the cause of the problem. These are tests or procedures used by your vet to determine what’s wrong.

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Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP