October 14, 2008 | | Comments 0

Foal Scours

Rota Virus - Common cause of Foal Scours

Rota Virus - Common cause of Foal Scours

Foal Scours

Facing a case of foal scours can seem like a baptism of fire for new horse owners. Although the condition is normal for many foals, the mess and inconvenience created by foal scours can really be disturbing.

What Is Foal Scours

Foal scours is a form of foal diarrhea. This, however, is an oversimplification of the condition. Foal scours is meant to specifically point to the kind of diarrhea experienced by foals more or less ten days after birth. Not all foals experience this but it is considered a normal condition accompanying digestive development. Incidentally, scours in foals and dam heat often happen at the same time. Foals however that do not have dams near them may still experience scours.

Causes of Foal Scours

There is a lot of debate over the real cause of foal scours. Not all experts agree as to the real cause. Recent research has just debunked one of the most commonly believed causes. It was once thought that scours were directly linked to mare heat and that hormonal changes in the mare caused the scours in milk feeding foals.

Others have suggested that scours may be the result of worms in the milk or food. It is generally accepted though that scours are normal and not linked to external parasites. Otherwise, the diarrhea would be of a different type. A third theory is that scours are caused by the foal’s digestive tract adjusting to the quality, amount and types of food that it has to process. This seems a logical explanation. Humans too may experience stomach upset when we ingest food types, combinations and amounts that we may not have been used to.

Symptoms of Foal Scours

Watery stools seem to be the only symptom that should be present. Since the diarrhea is not caused by infections or other medical conditions, there should be no change in a foal’s habits and demeanor. You would therefore know if there is some other serious problem with your foal if it begins to show high fever and looses its appetite. When other symptoms like these appear, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Do remember that the consequence of any unmonitored form of diarrhea is dehydration. Even if scours is not very alarming, you should take steps to ensure that your foal does not lack access to food, fluids and protection from outside heat. Otherwise your foal could die.

Treatment of Foal Scours

Aside from food and fluids, some horse owners do not use any other form of treatment. They simply allow the scours to run their course. You may however attempt to fortify your foal’s digestive system. Yogurt which is a source of good digestive bacteria may be good for your foal. Foals however typically work on their own to supply good bacteria to their guts by eating some of their dam’s poop which also supplies some good bacteria. Make sure you clean your foal to avoid skin irritation.

Foal scours is really more stomach-wrenching than alarming. If your foal has it, what you should really worry about is your capacity to bear having to get your hands dirty.

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