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Equine Vet
Equine Vet, Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 206
Experience:  I have worked with many types of horses, from racing Thoroughbreds to Grand Prix jumpers.
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Why wont mare eat or drink after giving birth

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Young mare had foal yesterday. She is eating very little and has just drank about 4 gals of water in 36 hours. Had vet out and he flushed her out because her placenta was still attached. He pulled it out and I thought you were not supposed to do this. Foal is fine and drinking milk but she acts like she is in a bunch of pain. Gave her banamine 3 times now and she will pick after she gets the shot. She has not had a bowel movement.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Equine Vet replied 9 years ago.
There are a couple of things that I would consider based on what you have said. The first is that I often see mares that colic after giving birth, I suspect that this is potentially due to the mares neglecting to drink enough water or adopting an abnormal eating pattern during the birthing process, combined with the stress of the event itself. As a maiden mare, yours would definitely fit this description. Sometimes Banamine is enough to get them over the initial digestive upset, but other times I need to perform a rectal exam to determine if there is something more serious occurring (mares that have recently given birth are more prone to colonic displacements, presumably due to the decreased bulk in the abdomen after the foal is expelled). Often mineral oil, water and electrolytes administered through a nasogastric tube helps a lot if there is a small impaction present. Three times giving Banamine in 36 hours is quite a lot, I would also consider administering a gastroprotectant such as Gastrogard, as she may have some gastric ulceration from a combination of stress and further insult from the Banamine. I would be especially concerned about the chance of colic due to the fact that she has produced no manure. I think a recheck from your vet is in order.

As far as the retained placenta goes, you are correct in saying that the placenta should never be removed by brute force, but often with a combination of lavage and very gentle traction we are able to sufficiently loosen the attachments and free the placenta. Hopefully your vet was able to examine the placenta afterward to ensure that there were no missing pieces that could still be in the mare. I would be cautious about possible uterine infection post retained placenta, and would have probably started the mare on prophylactic antibiotics just in case. Your vet may have felt that this was not necessary in your case. If the mare develops a fever or has a vulval discharge, the discomfort she is feeling could be related to the after-effects of the retained placenta. If this is the case further flusing of the uterus may be required in addition to systemic antibiotics.

The best thing for you to do would be to have your vet out to have another look at the mare and make sure that she is not colicking due to an impaction or displacement and that she is not developing a uterine infection. I hope that you are able to make her more comfortable with your vet's help; I would hesitate to administer further doses of Banamine without an exam. Please let me know if I can be of further help.

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Customer: replied 9 years ago.

she has had a bowel movement but is still not eating or drinking. That was one of the questions on how to entice a horse to drink. I am having the vet come back out as you suggested and will ask him what you have said.


Expert:  Equine Vet replied 9 years ago.
Sorry I did not see your question about how to make your mare drink. I have tried various things including adding apple juice or Gatorade powder to a second bucket of water. Sometimes nothing is enticing enough to get them to drink if they are impacted or otherwise feeling unwell, in this case IV fluids may be necessary. If your vet has examined the mare and okayed her to eat (if horses are colicking I often have them starved of food to empty out for 24 hours), I would try a very juicy mash of pellets or a bran mash, sometimes this encourages the horse by combining food with water. You can also soak any hay she is eating to get more water into her. It may be a matter of waiting until the primary problem is diagnosed and solved before she is feeling well enough to eat and drink a normal amount again. I am glad that she has started to pass manure though. I hope your vet will be able to get to the root of the problem through examining her. Let me know if you have any further questions.

If this information has been helpful, please click on "accept" so that I will receive credit for my answer. Thanks!

Equine Vet and 2 other Horse Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you