COVID-19 Information Center

Necrotic Vaginitis in Horses and Donkeys

Date Published: 10/05/2009

Today on the program I am going to discuss a condition that can occur in mares after foaling called necrotic vaginitis. This condition is common in miniature horses but can occur in all horses and donkeys. It is caused by trauma to the vaginal canal during the foaling process. Although this trauma can occur in an apparently normal foaling, it more commonly occurs in maiden mares and in cases that require manipulation of the fetus by a veterinarian to aid the foal's birth. Any mare that has a difficult time having a foal should be examined after foaling by a veterinarian. In fact, it is always a good idea for your veterinarian to check your mare at 12 hours after foaling by gently parting the vulvar lips and looking for bruising. If the area appears bruised, then a speculum exam is indicated.

Symptoms of necrotic vaginitis include depression, lethargy, inappetence, and some mares will dribble urine due to the trauma around the urethral opening. Diagnosis of the condition is fairly easy as a speculum exam reveals red inflamed areas on the vaginal walls that become blue and black as the tissue dies. A lot of the vaginal tissue will die and slough, and antibiotics should be used during this time to prevent infection. A major concern in miniature horses with this syndrome is that adhesions can develop between the vaginal walls, which can lead to permanent damage. To prevent adhesions, while using a sterile glove an antibiotic steroid cream must be applied inside the vagina at least twice weekly until the lesions heal. So if you have a mare that has any trouble foaling, especially a miniature mare, be sure and have your veterinarian perform a vaginal exam after foaling.