As we get older our bodies get older with us. Wear and tear of the joints presents as arthritis, senile cataracts result in diminishing vision and we become generally slower and weaker. However donkeys, like horses and rabbits incidentally, have continually erupting teeth throughout their life. The implication of this is that if they are fortunate enough to live into old age, they may well have outlived their teeth!
Loose and missing teeth cause great problems for a grazing animal as you can imagine. Struggling to maintain weight is the obvious problem but colic from blocked guts or choking on un-chewed fibres are medical emergencies.
If the dentist or vet has concerns over the reduced function of the remaining teeth to adequately chew hay or straw, then the donkey can join a dental group. These donkeys are fed on chopped fibre and fresh grass. The quality of life of each geriatric is monitored closely.
Lucy at Trow Farm, the star of our DVD, “Growing Old Gracefully”, was one of these donkeys. She had been in a dental group for 6 years. Her looks and personality made her the obvious choice to help us make the film. The aim of this is to alert people who own donkeys of 20 years or older to the special needs of geriatrics.
Rest in peace, Lucy, age 46
Sadly, Lucy had been slowly outliving her teeth too. Checks on her quality of life had been increased in frequency. The difficulty in maintaining weight and condition became a big concern, but when her next vet check was due, Lucy was clearly not her usual self. More teeth were becoming loose and required serious dental work. All involved in her care decided that the time had come for Lucy’s star to shine no longer.
She was a favourite of many and her film acts as a living memory for us.