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


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


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.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If the foal is not as bright as normal or not nursing normally.
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

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's role

Your vet will diagnose and treat any underlying disease and provide the nursing and supportive care needed.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Is the foal trembling?
  • Is the foal active and nursing?
  • How old is the foal?
  • Does the foal appear bright, alert and responsive?
  • Did the foal stand and nurse normally after foaling?
  • What caused you to take the temperature in the first place?
  • Did you recheck the temperature value?
  • Does your foal have diarrhea?
  • Is the horse wet?
  • Does the horse have shelter?
  • What is the ambient temperature?

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