Veresdale Equine Veterinary Services

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  • Dr David Barthomomuez is brilliant. Yes I am totally biased but it is based on my experience over the last 6 wks with my mare Rivver. Treatment is still on going and I get the pleasure of picking David's brain for lots of horsey info when he does his weekly visit! I am very impressed with the way David handles and treats my mare, he genuinely cares. The girls in the office have also been wonderful to deal with. Keep up the great work team Vevs! - Cindi from Tamborine Village

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  • "Our family would like to give a big thank you and hug to Dr David, Kelly & all the team at Veresdale Equine Veterinary Services for saving our dog sid from a brown snake bite. Without their caring services I dont think sid would of made it, thanks guys. " - Hurchalla Family

  • "David and his team treat their client’s animals as if they were their own and have helped me and my horses in some very stressful situations over the years, thankfully, always with a excellent outcome!" - Toni from Jimboomba
  • "Thank you so much for the extra good care you took of Lilly ... I’ve always been extremely happy with Dave as our vet, I think he truly does a wonderful job, and you can really see how much he cares.” - Tania Banek

  • "The fact that Dave has been my vet for many years speaks volumes.  Dave has a very nice manner and deals with the horses in a calm and kind way.  He always takes time to explain options and procedures and to advise on what he considers to be the best course of treatment." - Gillian Coote
  • "Although we may have moved, we would not consider using any other veterinarian other than David to care for our horses." – Brett and Danielle from Wonglepong

  • "David has been my vet now for several years. Over that time with the highs and lows of my veterinary needs, David has always been compassionate, caring and friendly." - Marnie Wilmott

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  • "We feel that the care David shows our horses is the same as if they were his own."

    Weownna Warmbloods

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Dummy Foals

Written by Emily McCredden, in consultation with Dr David Bartholomeusz B Sc (Vet Biol), BVMS, MACVS (Equine Dentistry).

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floppy2smlDummy foals, or foals suffering from Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, are termed so because they act ‘dumb’ at birth, and do not follow the normal behavioural patterns of a newborn foal. It is a broad term which covers many different symptoms and conditions which make a foal act dumb. In many cases it is a temporary condition which can be alleviated through expert veterinary care, often via symptomatic support. Other names given to dummy foals you may have come across include wanderers, sleepers, or barkers (these names reflect some of the symptoms dummy foals may show).

 


 

Why are some foals born as ‘dummies’?

A dummy foal is thought to result from a lack of oxygen (usually)  or nutrients reaching the brain, either before, during or after birth. Neonatal maladjustment Syndrome has a range of causes, some of these include:

  • Placentitis of the mare
  • Prolonged &/or difficult birth (dystocia)
  • Low glucose levels &/or energy levels, due to inadequte nutrition. Can occur before or after birth, often after birth if the mare and foal are separated. If the foal is lame and lies down often, this may result in malnourishment.
  • Risks, such as septicaemia (blood poisoning), posed by an inadequate intake of colostrum
  • Jaundice

 

How do I know if my foal is a dummy?

There are many symptoms which may indicate your foal suffers this condition, ranging from mild to severe:

  • Inability to suckle the mother, either when they reach the teat, or even just to find the teat
  • If managing to suckle, they may dribble themselves, or may not be suckling vigourously or correctly, causing the milk to dribble all over their face
  • Foal appears sleepy
  • Confusion/disorientation: wandering without purpose
  • Bad-temperedness/touchy: they may not have a natural affinity with the mare, grind their teeth, sneeze or snap
  • Seizures/convulsions
  • Lying down for too long (a foal should get up every 30 minutes or so)
  • An irregular breathing pattern
  • Abnormal vocalisation (or barking)

 

floppy3smlWhat should I do if I think I have a dummy foal?

If your foal presents as a dummy before its 12-24hr postpartum veterinary check up, call your vet immediately. This is an emergency (we always consider unwell newborn foals to be), so do not fear calling your vet in the middle of the night. Quick treatment by an experienced equine vet can often save your foal’s life.

 

How will my vet go about treating my foal?

After ascertaining that your foal does indeed suffer from Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, your vet will attempt to treat the underlying cause as well as provide symptomatic support. Depending on the specific case, the vet may provide the foal with glucose, oxygen and/or plasma therapy. Depending on the severity of your foal’s condition, it may or may not need to come to the clinic for closer medical management. If the foal’s condition is not rectified after days of therapy the vet may assume that a more acute problem has caused haemorrhaging. An example of this could be hydrocephalus (crowned-head foals, or water on the brain), which may not be visible externally. As there are a number of problems with similar results, your vet may need to do some testing to determine the cause and therefore the appropriate treatment.

 

floppy4smlWhat is the prognosis for a foal that was born a dummy?

Provided treatment was successful, a horse born a dummy can go on to live a long and fulfilling life, and athletically can perform at the same capacity as those born without incident. Success ultimately comes down to swift and appropriate veterinary treatment, so our message to you is that if your newborn foal appears abnormal in any way, seek veterinary advice immediately.

 

How can I reduce the risk of a dummy?

It is difficult to prevent a dummy foal due to the vast range of possible causes, but there are a few things you can do. Knowing your mare's breeding history is extremely helpful, especially if she is prone to placentitis or placental separation. Close and appropriate veterinary attention with such mares can hopefully prevent dummy-causing conditions.

It is also extremely important that your mare is scanned 15 days post-serve/ovulation to seek out a twin. At 15 days the foetuses should be big enough to see, yet not quite soft yet (when they begin to stick together), thus proving an easier ‘squeezing’ of one. By ensuring your mare isn’t carrying twins, you can hopefully reduce the risk of a dummy.

As birth is unpredictable, ensure your mare is in a safe and appropriate paddock well before she is due. If the foal is separated from the mare by rolling under a fence, he may become a dummy through lack of colostrum. Having a secure, foal-proof yard is always a safe measure to ensure mum and baby do not become accidentally separated.

An equine birth should be under 30 minutes, from the first signs of straining to the foal being fully-born. It is vital that you call your vet if you feel the birth is taking longer than it should. For more info on what is an appropriate time frame for each stage of a mare’s labour, see our foaling notes. Through ensuring the foal is out quickly, we can reduce the risk of oxygen not making it to the brain, and thus a dummy foal is less likely.

floppy5smlIf your foal’s birth was a successful and short one, you should aim to get your vet out between 12 to 24 hours afterwards, provided the foal is normal. It should be bright, alert, walking and drinking well. If you are unsure if your foal is behaving as it should, please call your vet to confirm that all is okay. A foal which appears ‘sleepy’ (and may not appear to be very concerning) is a sign of a very unwell young horse to your vet. If the foal is well and all is clear at their 12-24hr post-partum checks, keep a close eye one them, as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy can still occur suddenly after this period.

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Thursday, 30 October 2014 22:51

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