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Equine Specialists Ready for Foaling Season

March 3, 2015

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Equine specialists at the VMTH can assist with any foaling needs you may have.

To anyone in the horse world, spring means foaling season. The Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital can be of assistance throughout the entire process, from management of the pregnant mare to delivery of the foal and provision of state-of-the-art postnatal care. Equine specialists are available 24/7 should any complications arise. Whether it is for high-risk pregnancies or pregnancies anticipated to be normal, the VMTH can keep a watchful eye on expecting mares to give owners peace of mind by providing a full range of foaling services of the highest quality.

Mares are personally monitored around the clock by a highly-trained veterinary technician staff, supplemented by video monitoring and the Foal-Alert™ system, allowing for veterinarians to immediately come to the scene.

Dr. Bruce Christensen and his team from the Equine Reproduction Service, along with Dr. Gary Magdesian and his team from the Equine Medicine Service monitor every case. Working together, they ensure the best care for the pregnant mare, as well as both mare and foal during and after the foaling event. Veterinarians from both Services are present for every foaling. Should any problems arise, the VMTH’s board-certified surgeons and anesthesiologists are on call to assist with dystocias and C-sections.

Post-foaling complications are handled by the Equine Medical Emergency, Critical Care and Neonatology Service in the hospital’s world-class Lucy G. Whittier Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), headed by Dr. Magdesian, a board-certified critical care specialist. The NICU is equipped with customized stalls to support sick foals, allowing intensive management under the watchful eye of the mare in an adjoining stall.

Sick newborn foals are truly critical care patients because they can deteriorate very quickly and, if not treated early, can develop severe complications and die within a few hours. The NICU’s team is experienced in successfully handling post-birth complications that require the high-level intensive care a sick foal needs. The VMTH’s intensive care technicians provide around-the-clock monitoring, oxygen, IV fluids, IV antibiotics, nutritional support and all-important nursing care.

Critical conditions the NICU treats include sepsis, colic, diarrhea, neonatal maladjustment (dummy foal) syndrome, failure of passive transfer, NI (neonatal iserythrolysis), orthopedic problems (i.e. contracted tendons, crooked legs), prematurity, ruptured bladder, septic joints, and kidney or liver failure.

Additionally, post-foaling procedures performed by the NICU and reproduction team include: providing physical therapy for foals with leg deformities; evaluating the mare’s reproductive tract; treatment of retained placenta; and milking mares to bottle- or tube-feed their foals if the foal is unable to nurse.

The NICU has three mare/foal stalls, with ample overflow space into the nearby ICU ward. Whatever your need may be, the VMTH is here to help you welcome healthy foals into the world.

About the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis—a unit of the School of Veterinary Medicine—provides state-of-the-art clinical care while serving as the primary clinical teaching experience for DVM students and post graduate veterinarian residents. The VMTH treats more than 47,000 animals a year, ranging from cats and dogs to horses, cows and exotic species. To learn more about the VMTH, please go to Timely news updates can be received on its Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.

Rob Warren
VMTH Communications & Marketing Officer