How to Perform CPR on a Newborn Foal

Many foals born with beating heart and pulse, but who fail to breathe, can be revived via CPR. Here’s what to remember.
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It’s bad news when a foal enters the world without taking a breath. But there’s some good news: Many foals born with beating heart and pulse, but who fail to breathe, can be revived via cardiopulmonary resuscitation (more commonly known as CPR). And there’s more good news: Both owners and veterinarians can perform CPR on a foal in need. The key is to be prepared in advance and not to wait until it’s too late to learn this potentially life-saving skill.

To that end, SallyAnne Ness, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, reviewed how to perform CPR on newborn foals at the 2015 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ness is an internal medicine specialist at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Ithaca, New York.

Be Prepared

Ness said many veterinary clinics keep portable neonatal crash kits prepared and handy. These kits should contain the products needed to deliver life-saving oxygen to foals that fail to breath upon delivery.

She also recommended that veterinarians have on hand the injectable medications that can aid resuscitation when a foal’s heart rate gets too low or stops beating—epinephrine (adrenaline) and vasopressin (a hormone that raises blood pressure and helps maintain blood flow to the heart and brain). She also suggested printing a dosing chart ahead of time to prevent errors if medications are drawn up and administered in a hurry

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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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