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CPR in Foals

Date Published: 11/29/2010

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is commonly used in human medicine and is used in animals as well. In adult horses, it is technically impossible to give CPR due to the size of the animals. However, it can be helpful in foals and today we are going to talk about this procedure. CPR is indicated in any case in which the foal stops breathing or does not have a heartbeat. The most important thing is to have personnel ready if you have a mare that you think might be giving birth to a compromised foal. Newborn foals born from mares with high risk pregnancies should be assumed to be compromised and may require CPR. Foals born when mares have a problem delivering, born too early, delivered by Caesarean section, or born from mares with a uterine infection called placentitis all may need CPR to survive.

A normal foal should be breathing about 1 breath per second 30 seconds at birth and the heart beat should also be regular at about 1 beat per second. Any foals that have a lower respiratory rate or heart rate than about 1 per second may require resuscitation. All foals should be dried immediately after birth and fluid should be cleared from their mouths and noses. The foal's head can be lowered to aid in clearing fluid but the foal should not be suspended by its hindlimbs. If the foal is not breathing, the best method to get air into the foal is to pass a tube through the nose into the trachea, but this procedure requires a veterinarian. Be sure and join me for the next program for more on CPR in foals.