CPR for the Newborn Foal

What to Do with a Non-responsive Foal

by Joanne Fehr, DVM, DACVS, Emergency Clinician


Photo credit Christy Whitman

While awaiting the arrival of a new foal, no one wants to anticipate problems. However, early recognition and appropriate response is imperative in emergency situations. If faced with a difficult delivery or non-responsive foal there are things you can do that might save its life while waiting for the veterinarian to arrive. The following include basic newborn facts and the ABC’s of resuscitation:

  • Second stage labor should be less than 20 minutes. The foal should breathe regularly within 30 seconds, attempt to get sternal within five minutes and suck reflex within two to 20 minutes. Normal heart rate is approximately 70 BPM.
  • Newborns that require resuscitation gasp for longer than 30 seconds, have no respiratory movement, and heartbeat is not present or is less than 40 BPM.
  • Immediately after a difficult birth, vigorous rubbing of the foal with clean towels and manually clearing the mouth/nose of secretions should stimulate breathing. Suctioning of the airway with a bulb syringe should be performed.
  • ABC: Airway, Breath, Circulation. If the foal is not breathing, mouth-to-nose resuscitation can be performed. Extend the head, cup the chin, occlude the down nostril and breathe at approximately 10 breaths/minute. Re-evaluate the heart rate. If it is less than 40 BPM, start chest compressions at 80/minute and continue respirations. Aim for two breaths/15 thoracic compressions. Stop CPR if respirations are greater than 16 BPM and heart rate is greater than 60 BPM.

PilchuckVeterinary Hospital fulfills a vital role in the Western Washington area as a 24-hour emergency care service that includes both an emergency referral center and local ambulatory service. We believe this provides our clients with an invaluable and essential service. Our ambulatory veterinarians are ready to attend any emergencies within our local practice radius day or nightLarge Animal Emergency Service: Call 360.568.3111. pilchuckvet.com.


Published April 2013 Issue

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