In the projects department we are celebrating this week as we have seen the results of many years of work being published in the Equine Veterinary Journal, an international publication aimed specifically at equine vets. We carry out projects to help improve knowledge of donkey health and welfare problems, this most recent project funded by The Donkey Sanctuary has highlighted the differences in donkey feet when compared to horses.
The study has emphasised the need for vets, farriers and owners to assess feet using donkey specific guidelines rather than those designed for other equines. The non-invasive research project led by Dr Simon Collins (University of Queensland/Animal Health Trust) involved a worldwide team of experts from the UK, Australia and The Donkey Sanctuary and has shown that guidelines used to assess the normal or laminitic donkey foot should be revised as horse guidelines are simply inaccurate. Donkey feet are anatomically different to horses and when sick donkeys have procedures such as x-rays or specialist farriery it is essential that donkey baselines are used.
Donkeys kept in temperate climates are sadly very prone to laminitis which is a potentially life threatening disease. Often associated with inappropriate feeding and obesity laminitis is sadly a common reason for donkeys being put to sleep. Thankfully good dietary management and exercise can help to prevent laminitis in donkeys. For those donkeys that are unlucky enough to suffer from laminitis we hope that the new donkey specific guidelines will help vets and farriers to decide on the best course of treatment to make their donkey patients comfortable and pain free.
Donkeys are often a challenge to treat as so little is known about the species and their differences from horses, the Sanctuary is funding projects to try to improve our knowledge and hopefully provide vets, farriers and owners with the information they so desperately need to keep their donkeys happy and healthy.