Equine veterinary education2016; 30(2); 100-105; doi: 10.1111/eve.12564

Nutritional management of the foal with diarrhoea.

Abstract: Diarrhoea is a common problem in the neonatal and suckling foal. In certain circumstances supplemental nutrition is necessary depending on the age of foal, severity of diarrhoea and presence of other systemic manifestations. Nutritional supplementation can be provided either enterally or parenterally. Enteral nutrition is superior to parenteral nutrition because it is the most natural and physiologically sound means to provide nutritional support. Parenteral nutrition may be warranted if the foal is unable to receive or tolerate enteral nutrition. Dextrose alone or with amino acids and lipids can provide appropriate nutrition when enteral feeding is not tolerated. As soon as the foal stabilises enteral feeding can be reintroduced.
Publication Date: 2016-03-30 PubMed ID: 32313395PubMed Central: PMC7163645DOI: 10.1111/eve.12564Google Scholar: Lookup
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The study discusses the nutritional needs of young horses (foals) suffering from diarrhea, examining when supplemental feeding is needed and the pros and cons of different delivery methods, including enteral (through the digestive tract) and parenteral (intravenous) methods.

Necessity of Supplemental Nutrition

  • The article first identifies the need for supplemental nutrition in foals in cases of severe diarrhea, factorizing the need by the age of the foal and presence of other systemic symptoms.
  • This is paramount as a severe diarrhea can lead to significant loss of nutrients and fluids, which can be detrimental for the young foal as it may quickly lead to malnutrition and dehydration.

Enteral VS Parenteral Nutrition

  • Delving deeper into the procedures, the study compares two methods of delivering nutrition – enteral and parenteral.
  • Enteral nutrition is defined as the most natural and physiologically sound method to provide nutritional support, supported by the fact it uses the animal’s own digestive system to process the nutrients. This method is preferred unless the foal is unable to receive or tolerate it.
  • On the other hand, parenteral nutrition, which refers to feeding by bypassing the digestive system i.e., providing nutrients via intravenous method, may be required for foals unable to receive or tolerate enteral nutrition.

Dextrose, Amino Acids, and Lipids

  • The research points out that a combination of dextrose, amino acids and lipids can provide appropriate nutrition for foals who are unable to tolerate enteral feeding.
  • Dextrose serves as a fundamental source of energy, while amino acids and lipids support growth and development.
  • This mix can be essential for ailing foals whose ability to process nutrients may be compromised by health issues such as severe diarrhea.

Reintroduction to Enteral Feeding

  • Lastly, the article mentions that as soon as the foal stabilizes, a transition back to enteral feeding should happen.
  • The move back to natural feeding methods is beneficial for the foal’s growth and long-term health, as parenteral feeding is typically meant for short-term support.

Cite This Article

Barr B. (2016). Nutritional management of the foal with diarrhoea. Equine Vet Educ, 30(2), 100-105. https://doi.org/10.1111/eve.12564


ISSN: 0957-7734
NlmUniqueID: 9885274
Country: England
Language: English
Volume: 30
Issue: 2
Pages: 100-105

Researcher Affiliations

Barr, B
  • Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital Lexington Kentucky USA.


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This article has been cited 1 times.
  1. Goodman-Davis R, Figurska M, Cywinska A. Gut Microbiota Manipulation in Foals-Naturopathic Diarrhea Management, or Unsubstantiated Folly?. Pathogens 2021 Sep 4;10(9).
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