Health Conditions in Older Foals

Understanding ailments older foals can develop and treatment options increases the patient’s survival chances.
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Health Conditions in Older Foals
Understanding ailments older foals can develop and treatment options increases the patient’s survival chances. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Growing foals can suffer a range of potentially life-threatening illnesses and conditions, such as pneumonia, colic, and ulcers. At a recent veterinary convention, one practitioner stressed the importance of recognizing these conditions and their clinical signs, as prompt veterinary attention often gives the patient the best chance for survival.

During a presentation at the 2012 Western Veterinary Conference, held Feb. 19-23 in Las Vegas, Nev., Carol Clark, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, a practitioner at Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala, Fla., gave a brief overview of several select health conditions that foals aged 2 weeks and over often battle.

Before beginning, Clark emphasized, “Sick or stressed foals are much more at risk for developing (ulcers) than neonates or adults. Any sick foal older than 2 weeks of age should be on ulcer prophylaxis until it is healthy again.”

Gastroduodenal Ulcer Disease (GDUD)

As the name suggests, GDUD involves ulcer development in the stomach’s glandular or nonglandular mucosa, the duodenum, or the esophagus.. Clinical signs of GDUD include depression, anorexia, diarrhea, fever, gastric reflux, teeth grinding, excessive salivation, weight loss, pica (consuming nonfood items), and colic

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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