Retained Placenta in Horses

July 31, 2006 (published) | July 21, 2014 (revised)

A retained placenta in a mare is a serious problem that can lead to death.This condition is much differentin horsesthan incattle because although a problem can develop in cattle with a retained placenta, it is generally much less critical. In horses, the entire placenta should be passed in 3 hours and any portion of the placenta remaining after this time is considered retained. If any portion is retained, you should not adopt a wait and see approach but should call your veterinarian immediately.

It is important for the horse owner to realize that this is an emergency situation, and tonever pull on the placenta by hand. If the placenta is dragging the ground, it is okay to tie a knot in it so the mare will not step on it, but you do not want to cut it off as the weight of the placenta will hopefully lead to expulsion. If the placenta has only been retained for a few hours, many times multiple injections of oxytocin can cause the placenta to drop without further treatment. If this is not effective, your vet will generally flush the uterus to encourage removal and flush out material that can lead to infection.

If the placenta is retained for longer than 8 hours, a painful foot condition called laminitis can occur. Prevention of laminitis involves icing the mare's feet continually for up to 3 days and using anti-inflammatories as well as other treatments. Icing the feet continually is not an easy job but it has been shown to be effective.

The important point hereis that if your mare has a retained placenta, call your veterinarian immediately as there is a risk of losing your mare without aggressive treatment.

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