How to Take a Foal’s Temperature
Now that your foal is up and at ’em, your horse-breeding adventures continue. Learn some handy tips to keep tabs on foal health.
January 20, 2017
From The American Quarter Horse Journal
It’s no fun to take a foal’s temperature, but you have to do it. The blog post ,A Horse-Breeding Hiccup: Your Newborn Foal’s Health, discusses the following three common problems that occur in foals 30 to 60 days old:
- Lame for no apparent reason
- Dry cough and fever
- Hole in the belly wall
A horse’s high temperature can indicate many problems, some of them quite serious. Download AQHA’s FREE Potomac Horse Fever report so you can recognize the symptoms and seek treatment for this devastating horse disease immediately.
No matter what problems may occur with your new foal, it’s important to be able to take his temperature. Knowing your foal’s temperature will help you explain his health status to your veterinarian in the event of an emergency. To take your foal’s temperature, you’ll need these four items:
- A strong friend to hold your foal (And knowledge of how to safely restrain your foal. Check out Restraining a Foal, Part 1 to ensure that you handle your youngster with care).
- Thermometer - either digital or mercury
- String to attach to the end of the thermometer
- Petroleum jelly
Peak Potomac Horse Fever season is right around the corner. Know the signs, symptoms and treatments of this potentially deadly disease by taking advantage of AQHA’s FREE Potomac Horse Fever report.
Now, you’re ready to tackle this procedure with the following eight steps:
- Plastic, digital thermometers are easiest to use, but be sure to purchase one with a string attached to the end - or secure your own string - to avoid “losing” the thermometer while it is reading thehorse’s temperature.
- If you’re using a mercury thermometer, don’t forget to shake the mercury down before inserting it.
- Get help from at least one other person to help you secure the foal.
- Lubricate the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly.
- Move the foal’s tail to the side and insert the thermometer into the rectum, angled slightly toward the ground.
- For the most accurate reading, leave the thermometer in position for at least three minutes. Many digital thermometers work in less than one minute.
- Always clean the thermometer thoroughly after use (especially if you suspect your foal is ill) to prevent spreading an illness.
- If any horse’s temperature exceeds 102.5 F, contact your veterinarian immediately. Normal foal temperatures are 99.5 F-101.5 F. Temperatures higher than 103 F indicate a serious disorder. Normal neonatal foal temperature is 100 F – 102 F.