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Meconium Retention

By: Dr. Mary Rose Paradis

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Foals should be closely watched after birth for the passage of meconium. If possible the amount passed should be noted. Foals may demonstrate some normal straining to defecate but it should be productive. If the foal becomes painful or stops nursing, you should call your veterinarian.

Some farms routinely administer an enema to foals soon after birth. This can be done using a Fleet® enema that is normally used for humans. This type of enema comes in a nozzled container. Before using this product the foal should be adequately restrained. One person should hold an arm around the front of the foal and lift the tail with the other hand, while a second person gently inserts the nozzle tip into the anus and squeezes the container. This should stimulate the bowel to evacuate its contents.

Foals should be observed following treatment for passage of meconium. This procedure should only be performed once by the owner. If it is not productive or the foal remains painful, your veterinarian should be called. CAUTION – rough handling during the administration of an enema can cause damage or perforation of the foal's rectum.

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