What is Kidney Inflammation (Foals)?
The kidney is the organ that removes the toxins from the body. If the kidneys become infected, all the toxins within the body remain, causing more problems for your horse. If the infection is not caught quickly and aggressive treatments started, your horse can develop toxemia or blood poisoning. Fever, blood in the urine, anorexia, and signs of pain may indicate kidney inflammation.
Inflammation of the kidneys, also called nephritis, is a rare condition that generally only affects young foals. Most adult horses have a strong immune system that can resist the kidney infection.
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Symptoms of Kidney Inflammation (Foals) in Horses
In the early stages of kidney inflammation there may not be many significant symptoms that cause alarm. Foals are typically affected by this disease so early detection is very important since their immune system is not mature. Watch for any of these symptoms and contact your veterinarian for an immediate appointment.
- Pain in the kidney
- Fever, usually starts off mild and then intensifies
- Swelling of the kidneys
- Pus in the urine
- Blood in the urine
- Loss of weight
- Lack of appetite
- High blood pressure
- Serum protein levels heightened in the blood
- Urea and creatinine levels higher than normal
Causes of Kidney Inflammation (Foals) in Horses
Kidney inflammation occurs when an infection invades the kidneys and the toxins that need to be flushed from the body are not being properly excreted. Many times, it is unknown what caused the infection, but foals are more susceptible because they have a much more immature immune system.
When there is an infection anywhere in the body, the kidneys must work harder to filter the waste as well as try and filter out the infection. When the kidneys themselves are infected, then the entire body is affected. If the infection is not treated aggressively, then death can result.
Diagnosis of Kidney Inflammation (Foals) in Horses
Your veterinarian will do a full physical examination on your foal and discuss any symptoms that you have seen. The symptoms will give your veterinarian an idea of what to start looking for and where the problem is originating.
As part of the physical examination, your veterinarian will most likely conduct a rectal palpation. This will allow your veterinarian to feel along the kidneys and determine if there is any swelling. Your foal’s response to the palpation will also help determine the amount of pain associated with the swollen kidneys.
Blood will need to be drawn for a complete blood count and a chemical blood profile. A urinalysis and an electrolyte panel may be ordered. The blood tests will show if there are any increases in the urea and creatinine levels and the serum protein levels. Pus within the urine is a strong indicator that there is a kidney infection present.
Your veterinarian may also perform an ultrasound of the kidneys. This will enable your veterinarian to see all of the kidneys and if there are any blockages, or what is happening to them. Kidney stones will appear on an ultrasound and so will a tumor, this will rule out or confirm their presence.
Treatment of Kidney Inflammation (Foals) in Horses
Once your veterinarian has determined kidney inflammation, a treatment plan will be set. The treatment plan will vary depending on how far the infection has progressed, the overall health of the foal and how strong the foal’s immune system is.
Generally, a long course of aggressive antibiotics will be required to treat the infection. Bacterial inhibitors, such as potentiated sulphonamides, can be added to prevent further infection within the body.
As your foal fights off the infection, it is essential to maintain good body condition. This includes giving premium feed and letting your foal graze on high quality pasture grass. Adding an Omega-3 fatty acid to the diet will help boost their immune system. Decrease their calcium intake by feeding grass hay, not alfalfa.
During treatment, your veterinarian will want to closely monitor the creatinine levels within the blood. This will determine if the kidneys are beginning to function better. Your foal’s electrolytes and acid-base balance will also be monitored to ensure that the infection is not spreading.
Recovery of Kidney Inflammation (Foals) in Horses
Kidney inflammation in horses can be potentially fatal. That is why it is important to be diligent in watching for symptoms and seeking immediate veterinary assistance. Inflammation within the kidneys can lead to perpetual kidney disease and your horse’s quality of life can quickly decline.
Make sure that you are following the treatment plan exactly as your veterinarian has prescribed. All medications must be administered as prescribed and given for the full amount of time prescribed. Antibiotics will cure the infection and help build your foal’s immunity to prevent re-infection.