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Dummy Foals

Dummy Foal is a term given to a foal that is acting dumb or not following normal behavioural patterns at birth or within the first few hours of life. Medically also known as Neonatal Maladjustment Syndrome, Neonatal Encephalopathy or Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy. It occurs when the brain is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at some point during the pregnancy, birth or shortly after birth. This can occur due to conditions such as placentitis (placental infection) in the mare, septicemia, low glucose levels or an extended or difficult birth.

Signs of a dummy foal are seen within the first 24 hours of life and include;
* Loss of sucking reflex
* Inability to locate the mare’s udder
* Walking in circles
* Irritability
* Confusion
* Grinding teeth
* Making an abnormal “barking” sound
* Lying down a lot and/or excessive sleeping
* Irregular breathing
* Seizures

Early intervention by a veterinarian is required if any of these signs are noticed. A vet will normally provide a dummy foal with supportive therapies such as oxygen, nasogastric feeding and/or antibiotics to help them through the first few days of life. The majority of dummy foals will recover fully within the first 5 to 7 days of life and go on to live normal lives.

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