Advice please - loss of foal - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-26-2011, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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Advice please - loss of foal

I will try to keep this short. I am fairly new to horse ownership, but recently had acquired a pregnant mare who we were told was to deliver in September/October. Vet saw the mom, said everything looked great, but probably more like September, maybe August. Surprise! The baby was born sometime in the evening/morning hours of 07/20-21/11. Baby seemed to be doing okay, up and nursing. Called the vet Thursday morning/afternoon and he suggested he wait until early Friday morning to come check out mom and baby after ascertaining the baby was up and nursing and things seemed to be okay. He came out Friday morning, looked at and took blood from baby, gave tetanus, looked at mom and said everything looked good. Went back out on Saturday afternoon and noticed baby seemed to be not as energetic as I would have expected and not nursing like I thought she should and was being a little too compliant to being handled. I worried all that night, so went back out Sunday morning and felt like something was terribly wrong. Baby did not want to get up. I called my husband who in turn called the vet and the vet on-call for the weekend finally came out to see the baby. Upon examination, temperature was 104.5, baby was not nursing, and it was hard to get the baby to stand. Vet said temp was probably so high because the baby was in the hot sun. But then, the baby would not nurse, mom had plenty of milk. They milked mom and tried to bottle-feed, but baby still was not interested. Baby would stand for a short time, but then always wanted to go lie down (on its side), wouldn't follow mom when it was up. The vet gave the baby a penicillin injection and said the baby "looked like a healthy foal" and then said if she were not better by the next day they would like to come back out and give it IV antibiotics/fluids. I told her no at that point thinking if anybody is going to look at the baby or do anything to it I wanted it to be our regular vet. I could not get through to my regular vet, but was terribly worried about her and that evening texted my vet to let him know what had happened. He did not see the message until the following morning and of course, by that time the baby was dead. I was very upset to say the least. The on-call vet in no way gave us any indication that the baby was in any kind of imminent danger or any other options for that matter. Am I right to feel that this matter was mishandled? Should the on-call vet have recognized (as well as I) that the baby was in need of urgent medical attention and given us other options, i.e. referral to hospital, etc. Our regular vet did tell us that the baby's IgG level was well over 800, so no problem with antibodies. Would most anyone who is familiar with the mares/foals have recognized this foal to be in imminent danger (as she obviously was)?

So much for keeping it short.... sorry.
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-26-2011, 02:08 PM
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I don't know babies, but a temp of 104.5 is high. I would have retaken it after baby rested in shade for half an hour. That long of lethargy and no appetite in a baby seems pretty severe to me. The vet's reaction does seem a bit blase for the symptoms evident.
Lets see what the others who know babies have to say.
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-26-2011, 02:11 PM
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If I remember right, 104 isn't all that high for a baby. Their temperature is typically higher than an adults. Don't quote me on that though. So sorry for your loss.
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post #4 of 13 Old 07-26-2011, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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The temperature was not the only thing in question here though, but rather the whole picture. Baby not getting up to nurse or not taking a bottle after what seemed to be a promising start for her and going backwards in activity level (not getting up or following mom when she was up, couldn't spook the baby, very lethargic, always lying on side). I know I am not the expert here, but my bad feeling was obviously correct in this situation. After the fact, I thought it strange that the vet did not think this could possibly be something we needed to immediately intervene in given that she was only 4 days old and died sometime that same night after being seen or the morning after.
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-26-2011, 04:08 PM
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Hard to read one big block of text but I think I got it.

It sounds like you are looking back with hindsight and trying to point some fingers.
Which is an understandable way of dealing with your feelings after a loss. I am just not sure how it will solve anything here.

I know nothing about foal raising. The temp does seem high to me (but again, I do not know anything about foal raising). I personally would have asked the vet about just that, when they were there. So what if the vet did not act concerned, if I am concerned, I ask.

Very sorry for your loss.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-26-2011, 04:08 PM
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Actually 104.5 is high for a foal.

Unfortunately late summer foals have the added stress of heat and bugs. At that age they dehydrate very quickly. Fluids should of been given. At the very least, the mare milked and the foal tube fed.

I am sorry for your loss.
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post #7 of 13 Old 07-26-2011, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Alwaysbehind, thank you for sentiments. I was actually pointing a finger before the baby died (I think); as that same night, I tried to get in touch with my vet to express to him my feelings. Not trying to solve anything here. I was just wanting to know if that seemed like it was a "normal" way of handling this sort of scenario with a very young foal. I actually asked the on-call vet lots of questions of which she never answered directly, and repeated them trying to get an answer from her. She is the expert in whom I should have been able to put my trust in because admittedly this is all still very new to me and I am always questioning myself as well. After talking with my regular vet though, he did let me know that this is not the first time they have had issues of this sort with this person they have in their on-call rotation and said it looks like they need to probably revisit this again in a meeting.
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-26-2011, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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MLS, yes, I was wondering about the high heat and dehydration as well after the fact. In hindsight, (not that it does any good), but I did wonder why we were not given any other options at the time. My hindsight is understandable, not having the education and experience, but I do hold the experienced/educated person in the field of veterinary medicine to a little higher standards/expectations than I do myself.
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-26-2011, 11:36 PM
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Both vets dropped the ball on this one. If your regular vet had any reservations about who was covering for the WE and didn't do anything about it, shame on him. At the very least he should of given you a direct # to get hold of him. Any time a foal is recumbant and unwilling to nurse for any extended period of time, it is an emergency. Did the foal present itself as in anyway not full term? If that's the case, the mare most likely foaled early because there was something wrong with the foal or placenta. It was just the way it was going to end. Is it the chestnut with the grey mare? 104.5 is high even for late in the day and out in the sun. When the first call went out that the foal appeared lethargic and not nursing, the vet should of never left until the foal had a belly full of milk. A NG tube should of been run, you shown how to milk the mare and administer a measured volume of milk at regular intervals. the foal also needed to be flipped and repositioned to prevent sores as well. IV fluids and antibiotics probably needed to be started right there if the foal was going to survive (or atleast until tests were run and you knew what was up). I would think something along the lines of septicemia eventhough the IgG levels were adequate. Was there any tenderness or swelling around the umbilicus?
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-27-2011, 08:03 AM
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I so agree with left hand. That foal was probably born septic and should have been immediately treated with antibiotics etc as soon as the fever was known. 104 is way too high for a foal.

If the poster is going to have another foal she needs to know what went wrong this time to avoid it in the future.

Foals go down so fast. I always warn people that email me or call that they die within hours if you do not get aggressive treatment.
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