Spring time means foaling time, but it also means scours season… read on to learn more about what scours is and how you can help your new little guys!
Scours, also commonly known as Foal Heat Scours, refers to diarrhea in foals 5-10 days old. Long thought to be caused by hormonal changes in the mare’s milk during her first heat post-foaling (hence the name “Foal Heat Scours”), it is now thought to be caused by changes in the foal’s GI tract due to the introduction of bacteria as they begin to eat more foods outside of their mother’s milk, including the dam’s manure. This is a natural process, but can cause GI tract upset, discomfort, and diarrhea. Scours is not infectious, nor is it caused by a systemic illness, so it is not usually accompanied by high fevers or severe diarrhea. Foals with scours tend to have relatively mild diarrhea and do not display any other symptoms of illness – they remain bright and alert, continue to nurse and no abnormalities are present on hematology and biochemistry results.
While scours tends to be self-limiting and less harmful than other bacteria or virus-caused diarrhea, foals can become dehydrated easily and get skin scald resulting in hair loss on their hind ends. The skin on the back side of foals can become very irritated and sensitive, making it imperative to provide a barrier between the foal’s skin and their diarrhea to avoid further upset of the skin barrier. Common methods to protect the skin usually involve petroleum jelly, which provides some protection of the skin from diarrhea, but offers no inflammatory relief or antibacterial activity. Products with coconut, tea tree, and rosemary oil, like EnviroEquine’s CocoTea Salve, help heal the skin while providing natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory protection that aids in preventing infection and increasing hair growth. The CocoTea Salve acts as both a barrier and antiseptic to prevent infections and help soothe tender skin.
To ensure foals do not get dehydrated, EnviroEquine’s GastroBalancePLUS in paste form provide an easy way to give hydration and gut support to foals. The yeast cultures in GastroBalancePLUS vital to maintain healthy growing animals. Foals can quadruple their weight in their first five months, but diarrhea and poor nutrient absorption can stunt growth. GastroBalancePLUS has been shown to improve the nutrient transfer from mares to foals, helping to ensure proper growth.
More info on scours can be found at https://aaep.org/horsehealth/foal-heat-diarrhea