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Home:Equine Diseases: Equine Navel Ill

Equine Diseases

Equine Navel Ill


Equine Navel Ill, is a deadly equine disease which strikes new born foals from birth to about four months of age.  Navel ill damage is done just after birth, when the umbilical cord has yet to dry and is therefore vulnerable to the invasion of bugs which enter the blood stream via the umbilical stump.   These bugs cause navel ill and lead to equine liver, lung and kidney damage as well as equine septicaemia which targets joints and is known as equine joint-ill. Equine lameness could result from navel ill.

A new-born foal’s immune system is highly vulnerable and navel ill targets this vulnerability. If your foal is not up and nursing within a few hours of birth, it will not ingest enough COLOSTRUM (containing antibodies to protect the newborn against navel ill) to strengthen the equine immune system thus fighting off diseases such as navel ill. 

Vigilance in equine hygiene standards of mare and foal management will outfox navel ill.  Foals  born in a clean environment, do not get equine navel ill.  If it is not practical for foaling to take place on a clean, grassy pasture uncontaminated by other horses, then good equine stable management is your best weapon in the war against equine navel ill.

The Symptoms of equine Navel


These will will range from a swollen, painful navel which does not appear to be drying up, to the development of an abscess leaking a discharge, a high temperature and a reluctance to feed.  
There is just one cause of equine Navel ill and that is pure and simple lack of equine cleanliness

Prevention of all equine diseases


This desirable but none more so than equine Navel Ill.

Before foaling (as indeed at all times) to combat  navel ill, ensure the condition of the stable is  

Wet bedding should be replaced with fresh, dry equine bedding to ensure the foal is not exposed to environmental bacteria causing navel ill. 

If your foal is not up and nursing within three to six hours, call the vet.  Lack of ingestion of colostrum will leave the digestive tract exposed to bacteria and equine navel ill.

A staunch stance against navel ill is to dip the foal’s navel in a solution containing Chlorhexidine.  Iodine has been used for this but is attracting much criticism of late so it is very important to check with your vet first as to type of product and correct dilution ratios to fight navel ill.

If you suspect your foal has contracted equine navel ill, have it seen to by the vet immediately.  If you can be referred to a dedicated equine hospital this is the best course of action. Powerful aggressive equine anti-biotics will be prescribed to combat navel ill.  Treatment may be long-term.  If joints are affected, joint lavage may also be required.